How do we understand the law of God?
In the Book of Exodus, God delivers a series of commandments to Moses, ten words in the Hebrew tradition, that speak of the people’s relationship with God and with neighbor. The people can show their love of God, they are told, if they remain faithful, call out to God in love alone, and keep God’s day holy; moreover, how they care for their neighbor says a good deal about how they care for God. As people of the covenant, the people of Israel are to love one another with a covenant bond as they love God. Psalm 19 notes that The law of the Lord is perfect. God’s law is sweeter than honey from the comb, enhancing our existence, if only we embrace it as a set of guidelines that teach us to love.
If the message wasn’t clear in the Old Testament, God’s love, made manifest in the coming of Jesus, becomes crystal clear in the New Testament. As Paul tells the Corinthians, we proclaim Christ crucified – a means of death that would have dismayed the Jews of Jesus’ time and utterly puzzled the Greeks. Yet the bottom line is this: Jesus died for the sake of all mankind, to redeem all mankind; his love is stronger than anything, even death, for this love is the very power of God. Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, in John’s Gospel, is an occasion for him to foretell this death and resurrection: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up, he tells his spectators. I have come to die for you, in other words, and that death will be an expression of God’s great love for you. Jesus is the ultimate law, the ultimate Word, the ultimate sacrifice – it is this law we are to embrace, for it teaches us, at every step, to love.
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
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