Reflection for Wednesday June 12, 2019: 10th Week in Ordinary Time.
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Being a spirit-of-the-law person myself, my heart responds with joy to Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. With his Pharisee background and having been a persecutor of Christians, Paul knows very well the letter of the law and how easily it is to be enslaved to it. "…not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life."|Amen, I say! Right on! Rules and restrictions often hinder our growth, our understanding, our compassion. Do they have their place, and do they help us live our lives? Yes. Yes, they do. They can certainly point us to invisible realities. But when they blind us to compassion and mercy, I believe they are no longer useful and have become a hindrance to the Spirit in our lives.|So, if you are a spirit-over-letter proponent like me, today's Gospel comes as a slap in the face.|Wait, … Jesus said what? Jesus, who encouraged his disciples to break their fast by eating grains of wheat, healed on the Sabbath and castigated the Pharisees for their adherence to the law over compassion, said that?|These particular passages have always been problematic for me because it seems to me that they contradict much of his other teaching. I have used various explanations and rationalizations throughout my life to try and understand what Jesus is saying. By having this first reading and this Gospel read together at Masses all over the world today, a seeming dilemma has been introduced, and hopefully will be explained for all those who, like me, may be perplexed.|After doing a little research I did find some good insights.|One is that the emphasis here is on fulfillment so as not to negate the sacrifices Hebrew men, women and children had made on behalf of the law throughout the centuries. Jesus wanted to emphasize that by fulfilling and completing the law, he was not nullifying or destroying the law and the good that had come from it.|Another way to look at it is that the ceremonies, sacrifices, restrictions and other features of the Old Covenant were "only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves," as Paul says in Hebrews.|Or, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, people are invited to rediscover the law in the person of Jesus, who is its perfect fulfillment. In other words, Jesus personifies the meaning behind the law.|I don't know about you, but I feel better now.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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