10th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, June 9
2 Cor 3:4-11 / Matthew 5:17-19
God deserves the credit; He made us his ministers.
Some students of history say that Harriet Beecher Stowe's book Uncle Tom 's Cabin did more to end slavery in America than any other single force.Harriet Beecher Stowe refused to take credit for what she had written. She said, "The Lord wrote it, and I was the humblest instrument of his hand." Paul says the same thing about his ministry. He says he can't take credit for it. Every qualification he has comes from God. God deserves credit for everything he says and does.
How humble are we about our own talents and gifts? Do we give God credit for them, or do we take credit for them ourselves? "What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift back to God." Author unknown
Paul, defending his ministry against Jewish converts who insist on their prerogatives, states that the new covenant is superior to the old one as the life-giving Spirit is superior to the death-bringing law.
A constitution is a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed. Generally, it is understood that the purpose of the constitution is for the good of the country or organization. Hence to change the constitution is no light matter. If that is the case, then to abolish the constitution is a very grave matter indeed, and the consequence will be chaos and havoc.
In the gospel, Jesus said to His disciples: Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. Probably the reason for saying this was that His disciples were thinking that Jesus was starting a revolution against the system.
It would seem that the Christian community for which Matthew writes is pro-law and religiously conservative. It is certainly true that Jesus held the main lines of the Jewish law in respect, but to argue that he would uphold the law in all its features even to the end of the age exceeds the evidence. That he was God’s agent of fulfillment is certainly the case. But he was to be the author of a different type of observance, which went beyond simply observing the letter of the law.
Paul, as we know, takes a very different tack. For him the law had seen its day and was passing away. Its glory was a fading one. Giving his own interpretation of the brilliant face of Moses when he communed with God, Paul believed that Moses’ face was covered to conceal a glory that was passing away. For this reason he calls the ministry of Moses a ministry of death. The new ministry of the Spirit, however, is a glorious one that will not pass away. Paul does not see the ministry of the law as having permanent value. It is destined to pass away.
It is clear that the new covenant of Jesus, the covenant of the heart not written in stone, far surpasses that which preceded it. It is the covenant of which Jeremiah spoke, a covenant that comes from within. A covenant not written in stone but on the flesh of the heart.
We belong to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Christianity can never be understood if it is detached from its Jewish roots. On the other hand we are not simply a law-observing people. We are made holy not by anything we do but because we have been graced and favored. Christian fulfillment lies in the spirit not the letter. It is the response of a grateful heart.
Jesus says something similar in words that at first sight seem to say the opposite: he has come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it, that is, to give it deeper dimensions. What matters for us especially is that we must be aware that we live under the new law of love and that we are guided by the liberating Holy Spirit from servitude to the law.
Lord our God, you have taken the initiative of loving us and bringing us your freedom through your Son Jesus Christ. Enrich us with the Spirit of Jesus, pour him out generously, without measure, that we may no longer hide behind traditions and the letter of the law, to extinguish the Spirit of freedom. Let him enlarge our hearts and stimulate our fantasy to discover love’s numerous ways to fulfill the law to perfection. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen