Sirach 15:15-20; Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37
The New Catechism says this about the new life that Jesus came to earth to bring us into, his Kingdom.
The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace (God’s power) to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old (Jewish) Law. It inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who “does not know what his master is doing” to that of a friend of Christ – “For all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” – or even to the status of sons and daughters and heir.” (CCC, 1972.)
Conflicts in the Jewish Christian community
When we have a deeper understanding of where the Jewish community was two thousand years ago when God’s Son came to earth to show us a new way of loving and caring for others, we get a better understanding of how we relate with each other today. Jesus was not trained by the legal establishment of Jewish rabbis. They had over six hundred laws, not just the Ten Commandments.
As the followers of Jesus grew and were empowered by his Holy Spirit, great miracles and healings followed. As the Christian community grew, it had to go through a great difficulty with the legal Jewish Christians who believed they had to live that old strictness and yet were something new. We see that in today’s first reading and gospel. St. Matthew, the converted tax collector become Christian, was in that strong Jewish legalism. He puts on the lips of Jesus that strict Jewish mentality. His gospel is in five major sections, like the first five books of the Old Testament.
New breath of the Spirit
It took the Christian community several hundred years to grow in its understanding that it had some blessings from its Jewish roots. However, Jesus fulfilled the old law to the letter and moved his followers in a new direction. We can see that growth in the New Testament and the church’s councils, like Vatican Council II in our own day. St. John XXIII opened the windows and a new breath of the Holy Spirit refreshed and invigorated us to continue and expand the commission of the church to the whole world with greater understanding and clarity.
As we come to meet and know Jesus and his great love for us, our life changes. In the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, we are given a new grace to understand in a new way, not of this world and its political correctness from our government.
Characteristics of love
St. Paul says in the end of 1 Corinthians 2 that our eyes have not seen nor our ears heard nor has it entered our human hearts, what God has prepared for those who love him. St. Paul further explains in that same letter in chapter 13, the sixteen characteristics of love. However, it helps to change the negative words to positive. Then it is easier to understand Christian love yet we need conversion to Jesus to live that new way. Love is not self-centered and sexual gratification and abuse especially of women, as is in our culture. Love is patient, kind, respectful of others, humble, sensitive, courteous, helpful, understanding, forgiving, compassionate, truthful, ready to make allowances, ready to trust, optimistic, persevering and faithful. We need God’s help to put those elements into practice.
The love of Jesus heals our wounds of not being loved in the past and the negative emotions attached to those wounds. He fills us with his love and sends us out to love others with his love. May Jesus baptize you with his Holy Spirit so your mind and heart come to experience the joy of his love and commission.
Peace and all good,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)