Sixth Sunday , and shortly before lent


“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” I noticed something today, and it was not my shadow. Six more weeks of winter, and it is snowing heavily.

I noticed that after Jesus makes this statement, the LORD gives many details on the law. Jesus gives strict interpretation of it, the Law. Mt 5:17-37 The Pharisees were the strictest interpreters of Jewish law, but Jesus often told His followers to be wary of them. Jesus often preached about the burden of the law, could that be one reason he gave this talk on obedience to it? Certainly, how to interpret law might be one of His objectives. Common arguments often battle between the letter versus the spirit of the law. Jesus’s emphasis, at least to this reader, is that the law is important but it is not everything. The Pharisees were fanatics on the law. Jesus says “unless your righteousness surpasses the Pharisees you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Pharisees argued the Torah and that was their domain. Let, me mention that the quote I gave is not the full quote. It is only the part that pertains to the Pharisees. They are the people concerned with the letter of the law, which is the Word of God.

The other part of the quote involves the scribes. “unless your righteousness surpasses the scribes you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The scribes documented the law and they were employed by the temple. That is where their knowledge came from, they knew the letter of the law from writing the letter. Even though those scribes had a similar interest in the legalities as the Pharisees did, they were not colleagues of the Pharisees. Their relationship was somewhat antagonistic. Since they were temple employees, scribes were associated with that temples hierarchy of the Priests and their associates the Sadducees. Both were legal experts, but from different places. One from the Temple, and the other from the Synagogue. What is missing? Jesus said “I have not come to abolish but to fulfill.” What is missing to bring this law to fulfillment? This is what I saw that I find so much more important than a gophers shadow.

Later in the legal discussion Jesus instructs his disciples to reconcile their differences. Jesus says ( I quote) “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come to offer your gift.” There, hidden in the shadows, it what is missing to fulfil the law. The scribes worked at the temple where Priests accepted sacrifices from the people to be made to their God. To fulfil the law requires  sacrifice, and Jesus is both the High Priest that accepts the sacrifice and the sacrifice itself. No amount of that law can be fulfilled without the sacrifice that is Jesus Christ’s Passion. That is something to remember as the season begins to shift (the gophers TRUE reminder) towards Lent. Lent is the season of the Passion of Christ.

This discussion on the fulfilment of the law also became visible in the Mass, the first part of the liturgy would be recognizable to the Pharisee. Its discussion of the Word is like theirs in the Synagogue. Jesus preached there often.The second part of the Mass is likened to what the scribes saw in the Temple, not word but sacrifice. Sacrifice. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” With His Passion, it is fulfilled.

I should remember to dig a hole and bury my Alleluia, it’s just before Lent and that is tradition. Some things are more important that seeing a shadow.

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