Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wednesday of 4 Easter

Chapel of the Resurrection
April 16, 2008

Matthew 5.17-20

In tonight’s Gospel, Jesus talks about how he came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.

“…till heaven and earth pass away,” Jesus says, “not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is perfected.”

No doubt, this scripture seems a bit daunting for us. When we think of “The Law,” we think of a set of confining, oppressive rules. We think, no doubt, of the Levitical Law—that set of almost tedious rules we find in the book of Leviticus. We think, no doubt, of all the “thou shalt nots” we find in the Bible.

But is that what Jesus is saying he came to fulfill in this reading? Well, not really. If we listen closely to what he’s saying elsewhere, we know that he expertly summarizes the Law—the Ten Commandments—into two commandments.

“Love God.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In a sense, these really are the commandments. They are the true Law. Jesus is clear that upon these two commandments, the Law rests. The other eight commandments simply are ways in which these two commandments are lived out.

If you love God and love your neighbor as yourself, you won’t covet your neighbor’s property, you won’t worship idols, and you won’t steal. You simply won’t let anything come between you and God and you and your neighbor.

Even these two great commandments are incredible in and of themselves. For example, none of us can love God, without loving our neighbor as ourselves. Love of God motivates and compels us to love each other. And we can’t love our neighbor as ourselves without loving God. If we truly believe God is present—God is immanent—then by loving our neighbor as ourselves, we are loving God. And if we don’t love ourselves, we can’t truly love God, who loves us so completely, and we can’t truly love neighbors.

So, truly, if we try to live out these commandments in our lives, if we make the effort to follow this wonderful Law and let our lives reflect this Law, we are being Christians. We are accomplishing the Law in our very lives.

In fact, it is probably one of the boldest statements of Jesus to us about salvation when he says, “whoever does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, living out these commandments—loving God, loving your neighbor as yourself—are what save us ultimately.

So, live out this great and wonderful Law of God in your life as best you can. Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. And know that, in doing so, you are accomplishing the Law and bringing the kingdom of God into our midst.

Amen.

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