The Readings show the importance of the Law. Moses tells his people to observe the statutes and ordinances of the Lord. Moses in fact tells them, take care and watch yourselves closely so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children. The Law was given to the people of Israel to be let them know how to live within the life of God. Many think the Law restricts their enjoyment of life. But the Law sets boundaries so we can have a full life. Imagine a large land with a cliff. If there were no boundaries before we reach the cliff, there is a danger that we will fall off the cliff. The Law prevents us from falling off the cliff by setting boundaries.
This is why Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law or the prophets, but to fulfill it. Jesus concludes: Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. We cannot get rid of the Law because certainly, Jesus did not do so.
During the time of Jesus, the Jewish Law involved moral and purity laws. Moral laws are based on what comes natural for a human being. These are laws that define what it means to be a human being and cannot be changed.
Jesus gave stricter interpretations to these Laws. For example, murder is not limited to physically killing someone, it includes being angry at someone, calling someone “Fool”. Adultery is not limited to being unfaithful to one’s spouse. It includes looking at someone else with lust. Divorce was allowed, but Jesus restricted divorce. But for the purity laws such as washing the hands before eating, or healing on the Sabbath, Jesus changed them.
Purity laws define what it means to be a people of God. During the time of Jesus, and even today, there are many practices that have been included to support these laws. Jesus reinterpreted these to give the right meaning to these laws. For example, while Jesus did not speak against making holy the Sabbath, he reinterpreted the strict practice of the Sabbath that people cannot be healed on the Sabbath. He also reinterpreted the law against touching lepers and associating with Gentiles.
Lord, open my heart so I may know and discern how I can live according to your Law. Let me delight in your Law and see the wisdom in it.