30 March 2011

Climbing from the Letter of the Law to the Will of the Law

Our dear Lord proclaims that He did not come to unbind (solvere) the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill (adimplere) them (cf Mt 5, 17). The physicality of the Law, id est, what we do, what we can see, what our physical senses perceive, may have been removed from our Catholic ceremonial life, like circumcision, exempli gratia, but the spiritual and moral value not only remains, but through Christ, they are perfected. God’s perfection cannot be abolished for a different, a better idea, for that would make it less than perfect; but when His perfection is subject to our imperfection, then His precepts cannot reach complete fruition until His Perfect One intercedes. Only He can proclaim: «Consummatum est!» -- ‘It is consummated’ (Io, 19, 30).

Jesus is calling us to a higher standard: «Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut Pater vester cælestis perfectus est» -- ‘Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt 5, 48). He is Perfection and Fulfillment and is calling us to Him, for as He tells us: «Sine me nihil potestis facere» -- ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (Io 15, 5).

Saint John Chrysostom writes: ‘He [Jesus] fulfilled the Law by reducing all the precepts of the old Law to a more strict and powerful morality’.

Saint Thomas Aquinas adds: ‘See how necessary it is, not only to believe, but to keep all the Commandments, even the very least. Our Savior makes this solemn declaration at the opening of His mission, to show to what a height of perfection He calls us’.

Indeed, Jesus came and raised the letter of the Law to the will of the Law – and He stands at the pinnacle of that spiritual mountain, desiring that we be elevated to those heights.