You may remember the Gospel on the Second Sunday of Lent; the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. The vision that Peter, James and John saw, was of the transfigured Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the Law and Elijah the Prophets. God the Father gave his Son the assurance that he was indeed the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets.
This is exactly what Jesus reminds his disciples about today; that he has come, not to abolish the law, but to fulfil the Law and the Prophets. There was, however, something very different to the way Jesus both followed and applied the Law and the Prophets. He did it with love, mercy and compassion. He had accused the religious leaders of laying heavy burdens on people’s shoulders and doing nothing to help them. He, on the other hand, never put the law before a person. Their needs always came first: consider the man he healed on the sabbath, or the mercy he showed to the woman caught in adultery.
The Church (remember we are the Church) is tasked with the mission and responsibility to do the same. There are still religious leaders today who place burdens on people’s shoulders, who make almost impossible demands of and do very little for people. This is not the way we should be or behave.
When we have taken the time to come to know Jesus, to really know Jesus through the Gospels, Personal Prayer and our encounter with him in the Holy Eucharist, then our understanding of the Law and the Prophets takes on a whole new meaning. Many Christians are quick to quote the laws of the Old Testament but they lack the love that Jesus asks of all his followers. In fact, did he not summarise the commandments into a single, simple, yet profound command: to love God and our neighbour as we love ourselves. This is exactly what he did! Now we must do the same.
Ask yourself today: Am I a legalistic person, always quoting and following the absolute letter of the law because it is the law? Or have I chosen Jesus’ way of love, mercy and compassion? Once you have your answer, decide on what you can do to increase your imitation of the Lord’s love, mercy and compassion – not as a legalistic requirement but from the very depths of your being. It may require real metanoia!
Change my heart O God. May I be like Jesus in everything I say and do. Amen.