Daily Gospel Reflection for March 26, 2014

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Today’s Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19

Our Lord is teaching about the Commandments in today’s Gospel. His ideas seemed completely different from what the Jews had until then understood, and they accused Jesus of having cometo abolish the law. Because of this, Jesus was the source of scandal and hatred – so much so, that the Pharisees wanted to crucify him. In the end, they did.

Jesus tells the people that he hasn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. In other words, he came to clarify and add a new dimension to what was already there. The Jews’ law was tangled in pride and paranoia. The law was about the law and not about loving God and following his ways. Jesus taught that the laws are good only when they draw us closer to God and to each other. The two greatest commandments, he later told them, was to love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself. Those weren’t a replacement for the Ten Commandments given to Moses; they were a summary.

It’s easy to get tangled up in the law when we see it only for its own sake. That’s especially true for parents. We have the laws of our family, and we insist that everyone follow those laws, or else. The laws – rules – are good and necessary, otherwise our children will grow up to be self-willed and moral deficient. But we have to look behind the rule, at its real purpose and the real reason it was broken, in order to properly guide our children.

Jesus looked at the reasons the Jews were following the law (or not) and amend, not the law itself, but rather its purpose. He taught them to honor God’s commandments with love, not fear. We need to do the same for our children.

Ponder:

How do I view our family rules? Are they absolute, or are there different interpretations? Or, am I completely the opposite, letting the rules go because it’s just too hard to enforce them?

Pray:

Jesus, help me to follow you out of love, not fear and grant me the grace to teach my children the same.

Copyright 2014 Marge Fenelon

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About Author

Marge Fenelon is a longtime contributor to a variety of Catholic and secular publications and author of Waiting with Mary; Advent Reflections for Those Who Hate to Wait, and Ecce Mater Tua - Behold, Your Mother; Marian Stations of the Cross (both self-published), When's God Gonna Show Up? and When's God Gonna Call Me Back? (both published by Liguori Publications). Her latest book, published by Our Sunday Visitor, is Strengthening Your Family: A Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home (2011), the Foreword of which was written by Timothy Cardinal Dolan. She’s a regular guest on Sacred Heart Radio's "Son Rise Morning Show" and has appeared on many others, including "Conversation with the Cardinal" with Cardinal Dolan, Relevant Radio's "Morning Air," and Spirit Catholic Radio's "Inside the Pages." She's an enthusiastic speaker and small group leader, and has invigorated audiences in a variety of venues.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this reflection! The more I read the Gospels (and I’m seeing it in Old Testament readings too, particularly from prophets like Isaiah), the more I see this tension between the Law and what God truly wanted. Jesus goes back and forth with the Pharisees trying to get them open their minds and read between the lines; in other words, get to the heart, the meaning of each law. For Jesus, the heart of the law is love – this governs everything. When love is at the heart, then it is the inner life, or the soul, which is attended to, where an authentic life is lived. The Pharisees were into the legalism and the appearance of being good but did not understand about love. How many times too in the OT do we see God saying “I don’t want your burnt offerings, they are meaningless to me. Feed the hungry, take care of the widow and orphan, etc.”

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