Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 361

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

In times of stress we really appreciate the comfort of law. We think, "If everyone will just drive on the right side and stop for the red light, we'll be okay!"  In times of stress, we realize how precarious the situation is. 

To avoid catastrophe, we often settle for bad because it's not worse

Jesus, however, challenges these stable, fragile compromises. He continually invites us to reexamine our attitudes and patterns, to let go of counterproductive habits and move more gracefully in his spirit. Jesus represents imminent judgment; at any moment the world might end and we will be called to account for everything we have said and done. Excuses will not be accepted; whining will go unheard. 

Aware of that unease, Jesus speaks reassuringly, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."

The fulfillment, I suppose, means that laws which are hard to understand today, will make sense. The child questions why she must go to school and why she must memorize the multiplication tables; but the day comes when she not only understands, she is grateful that someone made her do it. Without all the sacrifices she made so unwillingly as a child, she could not be the generous, capable person she is today.

God's promise of fulfillment, when applied, relieves a lot of our frustration. Life with other people is often complicated and difficult. Even if our family life is pleasantly manageable, life in the church, the neighborhood, the office or the world at large can be snarled in inexplicable complexity. We often ask ourselves, “Why do we have to do things that way? Isn’t there an easier way?” and, more seductive, “I don’t need this hassle.”

But we do need other people; no one lives in this world unless the rest of us help. And because most others feel no desire, need or urgency to do things my way, because they don’t even ask what I want or expect, and yet they do lay expectations upon me, I may feel a serious lack of fulfillment in this present situation.

Say what you will about politics. It's real and necessary. Politics is how we work out our salvation with one another. Nor do we have the option of writing off certain others as hopeless, wicked or evil. As Christians we were sent to live in this world with some difficult people, and to make peace with them. 

Jesus’ promise of satisfaction applies here. “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” That promise includes a peaceful resolution of present conflicts, large and small. Somehow it will all have been worth it.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.