Teaching about the Law

Matthew 5: 17-19

Deut 4:1,5-9 / Psa 147

. . . whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:19)

It is not love to spare the rod,

Too much freedom, we’ll pay the price;

Obedience to the laws of God

Will assure us of Paradise.

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter, or the smallest part of a letter, will by any means disappear from the Law until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 17-19)


The way Jesus constantly contradicted and even condemned the Pharisees and scribes must have given the Jews the impression that our Lord was about to abolish or change the Old Testament laws (Ten Commandments, the Pentateuch, etc.) and the teachings of the Prophets. But Jesus was in fact trying to rectify the wrong interpretations of God’s commandments by the Pharisees and scribes. For instance, He pointed out that healing the sick on the Sabbath would not violate it as much as saving one’s sheep that fell in a pit would (Mt.12:11). He told the Jews to obey their teachings, but not to imitate their example, for they burdened the people with their man-made laws which they themselves did not follow (Mt.23:4). Their laws put too much emphasis on rituals and matters of little importance, thus neglecting the more essential parts or spirit of the law (Mt.23:23).

Jesus was in fact the fulfillment of the laws and prophecies of the Old Testament. Obedient to the very end, He had spoken and carried out everything according to the plan and will of God, His Father. In every aspect of His life, His disciples remembered His faithful adherence to Scriptures. Even as an infant His life fulfilled what was spoken through the prophets (Jer. 26:21; Hos.11:1) His temptation in the desert was filled with quotations from Deuteronomy and Psalms. In His discourses with the Pharisees and teachers of the law, Jesus often quoted Scriptures. Until His last breath, in fact, we hear Him quote from Psalms: “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?” (Psa. 22:1).

The books of the Old Testament will never become antiquated or insignificant even until the end of time. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33). Contrary to what unbelievers say, the laws of God, like the Ten Commandments are not obsolete. The laws of God are absolute, and will never change. Honoring our parents, the sanctity of life, sacredness of sex and marriage, the worship of One God, respecting the property of others, honesty in one’s dealings—these are all, like God Himself, timeless and unchanging. And if we disregard or violate them, then there will be a price to pay. Have you ever wondered why most if not many young people in America today have no respect for their parents, have one of the highest rates of pre-marital sex and abortion, and are more prone to substance abuse and self-destruction than at any other time in their history? Could it be because their Supreme Court had decided to ban the practice of prayers in school, and to remove the Ten Commandments from their institutions of learning? If God seems to have forgotten them, maybe it’s because they have neglected His laws and decrees. Thank God our country remains faithful to our Catholic traditions.

Let me never forget Your laws in my life, dear God, as long as I live. For they are the light that keeps me from stumbling, the discipline that I need in order to grow strong in my faith, and persevere in times of trials and suffering. Amen.

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