Life-giving Law

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Jay Flandez SVD – Hongkong

Friday 15th Week in Ordinary Time

Laws are important; they maintain harmony and order. They serve as guides, however they are not ends in themselves. The ultimate goal of observing the law is to love and show compassion to others, as Jesus indicated when he summarised the commandments into love of God and neighbor.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus was criticized by the Pharisees because his disciples broke the law of the sabbath by picking up heads of grain and ate them. The Pharisees’ strict observance of the sabbath law was recommendable, but their attitude was discouraging. They failed to show love and mercy to others.

Jesus in today’s Gospel reminds us that as we come closer to him, we must imitate him by showing compassion to others. Our relationship with Jesus is not according to the law but by his goodness and love for humanity. We are saved not by the law but by the love of God for us.

Jesus told the Pharisees, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” We may observe the laws covering prayer and liturgy, but if our religiosity does not give life, or does not show love and compassion to others, then our relationship with Jesus is only functional, or liturgical, not spiritual. When our relationship with Jesus is motivated by law, we will never experience intimacy and authentic Christian living.

Give life to the law by being merciful and forgiving to others. God’s law is not to oppress us but to liberate us.

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