Getting to the ‘heart’ of the Law
This Sunday’s Gospel is part of the Sermon on the Mount and deals with how we should live the Christian life. Jesus is telling us that getting by within the letter of the law is not what he has in mind for his followers and he goes on to spell out clearly what is expected of all those who profess to believe in him. He does not lay down laws and regulations for every situation in life, but he asks us to keep a check on our inner attitudes and on our motivation.
Every society has its laws. We may not like them. At times we may even resist them but they are absolutely necessary. It would be impossible for us to function without them. However much we may dislike the laws, they are essential to our very existence. This is not to say that the laws are always right. Sometimes they are clearly wrong. We cannot live without laws but neither can we live with them unless they are constantly revised and corrected.
There were many who followed Jesus who must have assumed that he supported a life free of the constraints of the Jewish law. His demeanour was so kind and his association with sinners so enterprising, his denunciation of the Pharisees so stinging, it would be easy to assume that he had come to declare independence from the laws of Moses. In fact Jesus had come to do the exact opposite. He had come to restore the law’s proper place in the hearts of people. He came to show us what a free and full life looked like, when lived in proper obedience to the commandments of God. The commandments of God do not limit life’s joys: rather they set us free to enjoy life with safety and integrity and are given as a blessing from God and as a sign of His love for us. Fr John