Today’s Readings: 2 Cor 8:1-9, Mt 5:17-19
The evangelist Mathew emphasizes the continuity between the Old Testament faith and faith in Jesus. Jesus did not come to abolish the law and the prophets which embody the Israelite religion. When Matthew underlines an event in Jesus’ life, he connects it to an oracle using a formula: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said” (1:22)
This does not however mean that the oracle have already “mapped” out the life of life. Rather, the early Christians who reflected on the life of Christ were convinced that what Jesus said and did would be better understood in the light of God’s saving acts for his people. What Jesus brings altogether is new. This is because Jesus is the word incarnate, (Jn 1:14), the definitive revelation of God. This is seen when Jesus contrasts what he teaches to “what was said to the ancestors”.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount reveals that fulfillment of the law and the prophets does not rely on doing something more, but on receiving “a new heart and a new spirit” This new spirit enables the disciples to be more faithful to the observance of the law and the precepts. Even more important, it opens their hearts and minds to the love of God and neighbor that is not bounded by any limit.
“Change your ways”. We use these words to translate conversion to take another road, to turn away from sin. With Jesus, conversion means renewal of life from inside out. The gospel will tell us that this renewal follows the discovery of God’s mercy and is the work of his Spirit within us. Christian conversion includes these two dimensions; the change of the heart by the grace of God and a change of deeds and lifestyle, something much more than mere good intentions and wishful thinking.
THINK: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:8). We need to free ourselves from the idea of God’s law as a statute imposed upon us from without and to substitute that of his spirit as a principle governing life from within.
Father Almighty, let us see the meaning of conversion as a way leading to you. Let us be renewed from inside out. Create a new heart and a new spirit within us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.