2 Corinthians 3:4-11

Before God, we are confident of this through Christ: not that we are qualified in ourselves to claim anything as our own work: all our qualifications come from God. He is the one who has given us our qualifications to be administrators of this new covenant, which is not a covenant of written letters but of the Spirit: the written letters bring death, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the administration of death, in the written letters engraved on stones, was accompanied by such a brightness that the Israelites could not bear looking at the face of Moses, though it was a brightness that faded, then how much greater will be the brightness that surrounds the administering of the Spirit! For if there was any splendour in administering condemnation, there must be very much greater splendour in administering justification. In fact, compared wit this greater splendour, the thing that used to have such splendour now seems to have none; and if what was so temporary had any splendour, there must be much more in what is going to last for ever.

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus came not to abolish the Law but to complete. What does that mean? In essence, it means that the Law was to prepare the Israelites for the coming of the Christ, and the coming of the Christ was to show humans what it means to be truly human. Just because the Christ has come doesn’t mean that the Law is now useless, because it still prepares a person to be truly human, modelled after Christ. What Christ has done is to make us free from the Law.

What does this mean?

Let’s look at the Ten Commandments. We take the fifth and sixth commandments as example. The fifth commandment is: You shall not kill; the sixth commandment is: You shall not commit adultery.

Now imagine you are already committing adultery with a married person and no one need ever know. The adulterous act harms no one, you think, since the other person is in an unhappy marriage that does not fulfil his sexual needs, and you are not looking for any long-term commitment. And the commandments tell you: You shall not commit adultery. “What harm does it do, you wonder? What sin is there? Why does the Church tell me this is a sin? I don’t want to listen to what the Church says, because they don’t understand my position!” we might say.

Now think for a moment about the fifth commandment. Do you have any desire to kill anyone you love? Probably not. Do you need this commandment to tell you not to kill then? Probably not either. But that doesn’t mean you want to break the commandment either. You are free to fulfil the fifth commandment, because your heart is in conformity with it.

Now we know that your heart is not in conformity with the sixth commandment. Most of us have some church teaching or rule that our hearts are not in conformity with, and most of us immediately assume that there must be something wrong with the teaching or rule. What I am proposing here today, in the words of renowned Catholic speaker Christopher West, and this is only a proposal, is that maybe it is not that there is something wrong with the teaching or rule or commandment, but there is something wrong with our hearts.

We are only bitter towards the law that when we desire to break it, says Christopher West. And that really does summarize our feelings towards some of the Church’s teaching. What Christ has come to do is to teach us to be truly human, but many of us don’t want to be truly human. We prefer our way of doing things, our way of finding happiness.

Jesus has come to present truth to us, and encourage us to seek truth so that we might find happiness, but most of us prefer to go after happiness our own way, which results in us finding neither happiness nor truth in the end.

And what Christ has done is to free us from the Law, not to break the Law, but to fulfil it. And it is in fulfilling the Law and modelling ourselves are Jesus that we find what it means to be truly human. And in so doing, we find the true happiness that God wants for each of us since the dawn of time.

Heavenly Father, you only want what’s best for us. That’s why you gave us your Son Jesus to show us what it means to be truly human. We pray that we may welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives, that he may change our hearts to be in conformity with the teachings of the Church, so that we might be free to fulfil them and live a life that is truly human, which we know will bring us real happiness, the happiness you desire for us. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Theology of the Body.

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