March 22, 2017
Moses spoke to the people and said: “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, . . .
Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’ Dt_4:1,5-9
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Mt_5:17-19
The nation of Israel, which began with the great-grandchildren of Abraham, those twelve-tribes of Jacob, grew up under the influence of the mighty power and wealth of Egypt.
They had certainly Heard all of the stories of the God of their Ancestors, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And yet, after 400-years, living in a land of pagan gods, they were in dire need of some Moral Education.
So, after God had clearly gotten their Attention, through His own Mighty Deeds: like splitting open the Red Sea, and providing them with food and water to drink in the desert, He began their Education with Ten simple rules, that were carved in stone.
And from those Ten basic Commandments that Moses received, over time, the Jewish Religious Leaders categorized and sub-categorized over 600 Precepts, Statutes, Decrees and Ordinances. This was the infamous Jewish Law that the Prophets wailed about and the Psalms venerated.
And yet, none of those laws were bad in themselves. They were just a bit excessive, and actually, sometimes even a bit smothering. And after another 1300-years, the Jewish Law became their own worst enemy, because in the process, it displaced the very God, the very concept of Love, that the Law was designed to bring about.
Thus, when Jesus began to teach and preach the overriding importance of the Love of God and the Love of Neighbor, the people then asked Him where all those other laws stood.
And Jesus responded, as we heard today, by telling them that ALL of those precepts were equally important, because they were all DERIVED from the original 10-Laws of God’s Love.
And He gave them lots of examples of how those laws were being abused: If you were not supposed to work on Sunday SO THAT you could spend more time loving God; it didn’t give you an excuse not to love your neighbor as well, by helping, healing, or feeding him, which the law seemed to prohibit.
So, just as you couldn’t ignore God to Love your neighbor, neither could you ignore your neighbor to love God.
Jesus said that He came NOT to abolish, but to Fulfill the Law. And it’s through Jesus, that we can see God, not as some invisible, distant Force, but as humanity Himself.
Jesus showed us – that God is IN – each and every one of us. But it’s up to Us – to show our Love and Respect for God, THROUGH our love and respect for one another.
When we can do that; when we can Teach God’s Love to others by OUR love for them, then, Jesus tells us, that we will be called “the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” And then we will Be – EXACTLY what God created us to be . . . His Love in the world.
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