Law and spirit
In the Old Testament, the divine pattern for human conduct was set forth for His people in the Ten Commandments which is a summary of instructions given to God’s chosen people before they entered the Promised Land. In the New Testament, God reveals himself to us in the person of Jesus who has showed how we are to live. With Christ’s new commandment of love, we freely respond to the call for holiness in the particular circumstances of our lives.
Many theologians would like to see the parallelism of the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai and the Beatitudes which Christ preached on the Mount which is feature in our gospel reading today. So to speak, the Beatitudes becomes the New Testament version of the Ten Commandments. The Beatitudes expresses a personal commitment to what Christ demands as part of our calling as God’s children. The Beatitudes is the positive response to God’s call to love, making us comply with our external acts of the law as an expression of our commitment to justice and peace.
The gift of God’s love in Christ, as exemplified in the Eucharist, becomes the central force of our acts of justice, kindness and love. Just evil intentions come from the human heart, goodness comes from the grace of God. Living the Christian faith is not all about complying with outward practices of our religion. Christian faith has to be deeply rooted in our souls, making the word of God as the source of all our actions and thoughts.
God gives us the capacity to act in accordance with God’s love in Jesus Christ who became human so we can share our humanity but not our sinfulness. We go beyond our religious practices and acts of justice and peace to realize that it is God’s grace that moves us to pursue what is good. As St Paul asserts in the second reading today: “It is God’s doing that He has become our wisdom, our virtue, our holiness and our freedom.” And quoting the prophet Jeremiah, St Paul adds: “If anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.”