We possess weapons of mass destruction. Social media and instant messaging tools assist us to kill the reputation of a person to a mass audience in an instant. In the past, the tongue used to be the sharpest tool but the cut still had to be inflicted by word of mouth. Today at the click of the ‘send’ button we murder the image of a person.
The commandment say, “You must not kill”. In the letter of this law, I did not kill but in the spirit of the law I am guilty. We can live quite comfortably on the right side of the letter of the law of all the ten commandments. But today we are invited to reflect on what Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfil”. (Today’s readings)
To fulfil the law, he came and left us a new and greatest commandment, “Love one another”. We cannot love by merely sitting on the right side of the law. Love calls for action: how much we love and are self-giving fulfils the spirit of the law. Fulfilling the law is life-giving. “Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given to him”. We have a free choice to live by the letter or by the spirit.
We can religiously keep holy the Sabbath day by dutifully fulfilling our Sunday obligation to come for mass. “Mass” means “Go, you are sent forth” to love with the life you live, to go and be life-giving. This is the real law: to go out to love. We cannot love merely by sitting in the pews. The choice is again ours; to keep the law with our head or to fulfil it with our heart.
Who is a ‘lapsed’ Catholic? The one who is absent from the pews on Sunday or the one who is absent from fulfilling the law to love selflessly with the life we live?
Faith is always lived. Love is always an experience. Keeping the law and fulfilling the law are two very different points; one a point of departure and the other a destination. Understanding the reasons behind a law will help us fulfil it but still require us to be pro-active. Coming for Sunday mass is a departure point where we are spiritually nourished and strengthen to set out into the week ahead to make a difference to lives around us. Doing so is our destination.
Jesus saying, “I have come not to abolish the law but to fulfil it” is an invitation for us to set out on a journey to discover “the things no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him”. Going “beyond the mind of man” is walking into the realm of experiences. We must depart from the head and journey towards our heart.
This must be the wisdom of faith, of keeping the law and fulfilling it: ‘not killing’ does not mean ‘life-giving’. There exists a huge gap. Mind the gap.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time