Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
"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.
Liberals and conservatives in church and civil society, like the rest of us, appeal to the scriptures when they find passages that seem to buttress their own point of view. Religion, we're told, is naturally pessimistic, conservative and reassuring; even if the Christian religion is genetically optimistic, forward-looking and challenging.
Saint Matthew's Gospel addresses that ambivalence. Jesus' mission strips away so much of the traditional Jewish religion it seems to have been scrapped altogether. Then he tells us he has not come to abolish but to fulfill the Old Law.
In this age of future shock, when we're continually challenged to adjust and readjust to the changing environment, when even teenagers seem overwhelmed by the rush of developments, the Spirit of Jesus again assures us, "I have not come to abolish but to fulfill."
Do television stations still ask people to "Stay tuned?" When changing the channel involved rising from the easy chair and crossing the room, it was a lot easier to stay tuned to whatever they would hand us next.
Today stay tuned invites us to remain engaged in conversations with loved ones, the Church, political situations local and national, and one's own body. Before I change the channel -- that is, flee the situation -- I should at least notice how uneasy I feel. "Ah," I say, "there is the old familiar anxiety, irritability and impetuousness, back again to send me dashing to my comfort zones of distraction." I need a cup of coffee or tea, a smoke or a drink, a TV program, computer game or casino.
Jesus' promise to fulfill invites us to stay here, stay with it, stay tuned and watch what comes next, what blessings he will draw from this difficult situation. That strange person is not an alien; she is my sister. That bizarre proposal has some plausibility. This uncomfortable conversation invites me to intimacy with a beautiful person.
I may not have the last word but I have something to contribute and it would be wrong to drop out now. Such confidence we have through Christ before God.