Love and Law
Today’s readings draw us into the heart of one of the great tensions of Christianity: law and love.
Many people, in an effort to emphasize love, do so at the degradation or even rejection of law. They will often take passages of St. Paul (in which he speaks about the primacy of faith and grace over the works of the Mosaic Law) as their only biblical texts and use them to justify an antinomianism that exempts us from any and all laws, as long as we appeal to some notion of love. Now while the tension between law and love is always felt, the Bible actually points us towards a fruitful cooperation between the two.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, says that He has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. The Law is fulfilled in Jesus’ love–not just a fuzzy notion of love, but the bleeding sacrificial love manifested on the Cross
Becoming more Christlike…
So then why do we still have rules and laws as Catholics? Why do Catholics– according to many other denominations–have so many rules and laws?
The reason is that law, while not being something that in itself can save us, does direct our hearts, desires and actions towards the Good. Without the clarity of Law we would easily slide towards our own self-justification and sin. I can think of so many moments in my life when I have let myself be led down a path of sin and selfishness, and it was only the clear light of the commandments-Thou Shalt Not!-that helped me convert and turn back towards the Lord.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to allow the Law to be a light to our feet to help us follow the Lord in love. As we do so, this path of discipleship is the journey towards what Saint Paul described to us today:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.