Divine Justice & the Law Fulfilled
This weekend Jesus is again using a standard element in the life of the Israelites and changing it, ratcheting it up a notch. Jesus quotes well known Jewish Law, and he gets a hearing because so many of his listeners were aware of its dictates. Yet, he goes further in explanation by introducing His own commands. Surely, His dictates are not greater than the Ancient Law of the Old Covenant? Noâ€¦but His understanding of the importance and true meaning of the dictates of old call for deeper understanding, more authentic response in each listenerâ€”in each believer there now needs to be a turning away from rigidity of interpretation and a new turning toward a message at the heart of the matter.
Jesus is defining the Law at its very core: the whole personâ€”and nothing lessâ€”is called into communion with Yahweh and with His people. And this makes sense to our minds, doesnâ€™t it? So often we hear of technicalities of the law where a criminal is set free. Yet, what is at the heart of the matter is the spirit of that law and the spirit of the human person.
I can remember when I was still in high school that I got pulled over for speeding. The police officer was kind, but was nevertheless just. He wrote me a ticket for going ten miles per hour over the posted forty. When I got home and spoke with my dad, I threatened to plea bargain down in order to break free from the hefty fine and points on my license. â€œYou will do no such thing,â€ my dad ordered sternly. â€œYou were going fifty miles per hour, correct?â€ â€œYeah, butâ€¦â€ I replied, at which point he cut me off, â€œthen you will not lie and admit to going any less or any moreâ€¦youâ€™ll simply own up to the truth. Period. End of story.â€ And it was (of course, as luck would have it, the police officer didnâ€™t show up at the hearing so I never had to â€˜confessâ€™â€¦accept at Reconciliation the following Saturdayâ€¦with my Dad right next to me!).
The moral I took away from that exchange with my dad was this: â€œSay what you mean, and mean what you sayâ€. At the very core of who we are, weâ€™re called to follow after the Master with every ounce of every step of every moment of every day. If weâ€™re reasonably expected to give ourselves to something, then that is what we should do. Period. End of story.
In our own day, there are so many sides of our mouths out of which we could speak. In our daily deliberations, hopes and actions, letâ€™s be people of the Promise and speak using our whole being. Out of the very center of our lives (and our mouths), let us proclaim that we are a people, chosen by God, to live life with Himâ€¦now and always. And may the heart of the matter at handâ€”Jesus Christâ€”reign in us always.