Scripture: 1st Reading: Deut4,1,5-9; Resp. Psalm: Ps147,12-16,19-20; Gosp. Accl.: Jn6,63,68; Gospel: Mt5,17-19
The law was the distinguishing mark of the special relationship between Yahweh and His people. The law was to mean more to the people than silver and gold. It was intended to demonstrate to all other nations the privileged love Yahweh had for His people.
The law was the "code" for regulating that relationship. This code was not written by the hands of any human person. It was written by Yahweh Himself. With it, Yahweh claimed Israel as His people and Israel confessed Yahweh as its God.
Keeping the law brings life; disobeying the law brings death. When the law is kept, harmony between us and other persons and between us and God is maintained and strengthened.
Keeping the law of Yahweh for the Israelites also implied a reward: going into and taking possession of the land promised to Abraham, their ancestor. Having a land meant the establishment of Israel as a nation.
Keeping the law meant possession of wisdom and understanding and the elevation of the status of Israel before the nations about them. Keeping the law therefore became a distinction, a distinguishing mark of Israel as a people. It showed Israel as "wise and understanding people".
Keeping the law also has another very important implication: having Yahweh near to His people whenever they call upon Him. Keeping the law assured them of the abiding and never failing presence of Yahweh.
Our Lord today categorically stated that He had not come to establish or promote lawlessness. Rather, He stated that He had come to fulfill the law and the prophets. According to our Lord, "till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
The law sets us free. The law assures us of God's abiding presence with us when we keep and obey His voice. Lent is a season that calls us back to the basics. Lent recalls our attention to the law of God. We are challenged to reflect on our keeping of the law in the past and our commitment to it in the future. If we have not been faithful, Lent gives us the opportunity to turn back from our lawless lives and embrace a new relationship with God.
Let us pray: "Grant, we pray, O Lord, that, schooled through Lenten observance and nourished by your word, through holy restraint we may be devoted to you with all our heart and be ever united in prayer." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.