Good News Reflections:
Making scripture meaningful to your daily life
by Terry Modica
“The root of every law is love. Generous love!”
Good News Reflection for:
Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Lent
March 15, 2023
Fill me, Lord, with Your Holy Spirit so that my thoughts, my words, and my actions agree with Your loving purposes. Amen.
Today’s Saint Quote & Prayer:
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Psalm 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
Holiness through the law is not legalism
Jesus came to “fulfill” the law, which he did throughout his life by representing the deepest meanings of the law. He pointed people to the root purpose and highest goal of each law — which is love — by word and by the way he treated each person.
This was a challenge to the Jewish leaders, who tended to be literalistic or legalistic when interpreting God’s laws, and it caused some confusion. So, Jesus clarified his meaning in today’s Gospel passage. In effect he said, “The interpretation that I give to the law does not mean that the laws are invalid. Rather, it shows that you are not fulfilling the law until all things have taken place, i.e., until your obedience is motivated by love for God and love for neighbor” (see Matthew 22:35-40).
When Jesus spoke of heaven and earth passing away, he was not referring to a literal end of the universe. Educated Jewish listeners knew he was referring to the well-known prophecy in Isaiah 65:17 in which God promised to create a new heaven and a new earth by providing a Messiah. They didn’t realize it yet, but the old heaven and earth were about to pass away in the death of Jesus. And before that could happen, the true meaning of each and every law had to be fulfilled by someone who could do it right. Jesus succeeded in true obedience where everyone else had failed.
Obeying all the commandments — truly obeying them — requires loving God with our whole heart and our whole soul and our whole mind, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Legalism is not complete obedience, because legalistic obedience leaves no room for loving adaptions. (Think of a company policy that doesn’t always fit the circumstances.) And obeying God because we’re afraid of getting punished is not an obedience that’s motivated by love.
One day I saw a woman looking sadly at the votive candles in church. She wanted to light one for a prayer request, but she didn’t have the required dollar. My wallet was not with me, so I encouraged her with the assurance that it’s not a sin to pray without paying. Still, she did not feel right about lighting a candle unless she could obey the one dollar rule.
So I said, “The answer to your prayer does not depend upon a donation. The only reason for the donation request is to help the church. You can accomplish that by putting extra money into the collection basket on Sunday.”
To follow Jesus more closely, examine the motives behind your own obedience. Dig down to the heart of every rule or Church law that you obey, and identify the love that’s there.
Next, develop a deeper faith by starting a new practice: Light a candle in church every week without paying for it (and don’t worry if someone sees you — it’s only God’s opinion of you that matters) and cheerfully, out of love for God, increase your Sunday Mass offering by $2.00 for every $1.00 candle you use.
The root of every law is love. Generous love!
For more on this use our WordByte, “Bible Study – The Law of Love” @ https://wordbytes.org/bible-study/law-of-love/.
© 2023 by Terry A. Modica
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