Gospel Reflection – “Great are those who teach and obey the commandments”

For the people of Israel the “law” could refer to the ten commandments or to the five Books of Moses, called the Pentateuch or Torah, which explain the commandments and ordinances of God for his people. The “law” also referred to the whole teaching or way of life which God gave to his people. The Jews in Jesus’ time also used it as a description of the oral or scribal law. Needless to say, the scribes added many more things to the law than God intended. That is why Jesus often condemned the scribal law because it placed burdens on people which God had not intended.

The essence of God’s law
Jesus made it very clear that the essence of God’s law – his commandments and way of life, must be fulfilled. God’s law is true and righteous because it flows from his love, goodness, and holiness. It is a law of grace, love, and freedom for us. That is why God commands us to love him above all else and to follow in the way of his Son, the Lord Jesus who taught us how to love by laying down our lives for one another.

Reverence and respect
Jesus taught reverence and respect for God’s law – reverence for God himself, reverence for the Lord’s Day, reverence or respect for parents, respect for life, for property, for another person’s good name, respect for oneself and for one’s neighbor lest wrong or hurtful desires master and enslave us. Reverence and respect for God’s commandments teach us the way of love – love of God and love of neighbor. What is impossible to humans is possible to God who gives generously of his gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit to those who put their faith and trust in him.

God gives us the grace, help, and strength to love as he loves, to forgive as he forgives, to think and judge as he judges, and to act as he acts with mercy, loving-kindness, and goodness. The Lord loves righteousness and hates wickedness. As his followers we must love his commandments and hate every form of sin and wrong-doing.

Quote from the early church fathers: What you teach, you should do, by Chromatius (died 406 AD)

“While it is sinful to abolish the least of the commandments, all the more so the great and most important ones. Hence the Holy Spirit affirms through Solomon: ‘Whoever despises the little things shall gradually die’ (Sirach 19:1b). Consequently nothing in the divine commandments must be abolished, nothing altered. Everything must be preserved and taught faithfully and devotedly that the glory of the heavenly kingdom may not be lost. Indeed, those things considered least important and small by the unfaithful or by worldly people are not small before God but necessary. For the Lord taught the commandments and did them. Even small things point to the great future of the kingdom of heaven. For this reason, not only words but also deeds are important; and you should not only teach, but what you teach, you should do.” (excerpt from TRACTATE ON MATTHEW 20.2.1–3)

[Note: Chromatius was an early Christian scholar and bishop of Aquileia, Italy. He was a close friend of John Chrysostom and Jerome. He died in 406 AD. Jerome described him as a “most learned and most holy man.”]

  Text and reflections, courtesy and used with permission – http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org

WRITTEN BY: Harold Clitheroe