Fulfillment of Law
Third Wednesday of Lent
People often speak of the Lord’s mercy and the Lord’s justice as opposites, or at least some sort of paradox that you need to wrap your head around. Similarly the rigid ‘Law’ that characterised the Jewish faith before Jesus is often contrasted against the new era of grace ushered in by Jesus’ coming. While it’s important to consider the renewal that Jesus’ messianic coming brought to the faith of Israel, today’s readings remind us that grace and mercy are not ‘opposites’ of the Law and justice but rather their fulfilment.
The first reading captures the extraordinary reality that the Law, given to the Israelites by the Lord, is evidence of God’s intimacy, not distance, with his people. “What great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him?” The fact that God cared about specifics in the lives of his people is astounding and a sign of his love, not a cold and distant list of rules. In the gospel Jesus is very clear that he has come “not to abolish [the Law and the prophets] but to complete them.” Jesus dwelling with us in order to save us is the continuation of the Law, which was in its own way God-with-us, involved in our lives in an intimate way in order to save us. While today we don’t need to follow the many customs and rituals of the Old Testament Israelites, we still receive the love of the Lord through his Law of grace and mercy, given to us through his Church.
Lenten observances can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, difficult, demanding and can feel like a punishment. Jesus today invites us to look beyond the mere ‘rules’ and see our loving God in them. “You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence.” We have nothing to fear from following God, however hard it is. It is the path of life that will lead us to ultimate joy, the joy of his presence.
Loving Father, we pray that today you will open our eyes to see your goodness and your love in all things, especially the difficult ways you ask us to follow you. Make us so trusting and confident in your goodness and love that we follow you to the end, and find fullness of joy in your presence. Amen.
Laura van der Linden
1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19