HOMILY
NOT ABOLISH, FULFILL

Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.

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The key to understanding the Bible and the Judaeo-Christian religion is the realization of the truth that God reveals Himself gradually and progressively according to our need and capacity. The Gospel for today confirms and reiterates this truth. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5: 17-19)

The law Jesus is talking about, of course, is the law that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai: the Ten Commandments. (Deut. 5: 6-21) These laws are still valid today. And they will always be valid because they are part of the natural law, the conditions necessary for human beings to live together in society in peace and in justice. The media remind us every day of the tragic things that happen when these laws are not observed.

Jesus did not come to abolish these laws but to fulfill them. And he tells us that love is the fulfillment of the law. When he was asked what the greatest commandment in the law was, he said, “You shall love the lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22: 34-40) There are really three laws not two; two are explicit and one is implicit. We are commanded to love God, our self and our neighbor. And it is the indissoluble bond between the love of God and love of self and neighbor that is the key to making love the fulfillment of the law.

But Jesus went even further. He made Himself the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” And his Father confirms this. At the Transfiguration Jesus is transfigured between Moses and Elijah. Moses represented the law and Elijah represented the prophets. And the Father said, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him.” God’s revelation is now moving from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, from the law to love.

Jesus is the personification of love and the fulfillment of the law. Jesus is both the fullest expression of the love of God for us, and the fullest expression of the human response to that love. In Jesus, the medium is the message. The entire content of Christianity has been abstracted from the person and life of Jesus. The whole content of Christianity can be expressed in one word, Jesus. When you’ve said Jesus you’ve said it all.

Our moral life is influenced more by significant persons in our lives, and how closely we identify with them, than it is influenced by explicit moral laws and instructions. Therefore, we should strive to know Jesus more intimately, love him more ardently and follow him more closely. To be a Christian is to be committed to Jesus. And since Jesus is God, it means with the totality of the First Commandment. You shall love Jesus with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind.” The essence of being a Christian is to have an intimate personal relationship with Jesus.

© 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J. all rights reserved