Reflection: the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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For our reflection today, the Church is presenting us with part of Jesus’ teaching about his purpose in the world, and therefore the reason of his presence amongst his disciples.  At the same time Jesus also speaks about the disciple’s reaction to his presence and teaching.

Jesus starts by telling his disciples that he came into the world to fulfil what was written about him in the Law and the Prophets, alias the Old Testament.  He unites together his purpose and presence in this world, and the purpose of the Law and the Prophets. Jesus says that he did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to bring them to completion and fulfilment.  Jesus explains this by saying that his presence with them meant that “not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved”.  Thus Jesus came amongst his people not to change what was written in the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfil every single word.

As soon as Jesus clarifies to his disciples his purpose in life, he immediately passes to speak about this (Jesus’ purpose in life), in relationship with his disciples, those who want to follow him.  As already said, Jesus did not come to change anything from what was to be found in the Law and the Prophets.  He came to defend and therefore to bring what was written to fulfilment.  Jesus can achieve this because he is the Messiah and therefore what was written about the Messiah was written about him.

Jesus tells them that it must be the same for those who want to follow him.  The disciple is invited to follow and fulfil (and not to change) what is written in the Law and the Prophets, in the footsteps of Christ.  They are not the ‘Messiah’, yet they can still help to fulfil what is written in the Old Testament,  by accepting what is said, that is, that Jesus is the Messiah.  To do so, one has to accept what is written in the Old Testament and therefore, create a relationship with the Law and the Prophets.  This relationship conditions how one is considered in the Kingdom of Heaven, because of which one is looked at as ‘small/least’ or ‘great’ in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Up till now Jesus does not condemn anyone, or closes the possibility for anyone to enter into the Kingdom, as long as one creates a relationship with the Law and the Prophets.  Thus being ‘great’ or ‘small’ in the Kingdom of Heaven depends on one’s relationship with/acceptance of the Law and the Prophets.

A question comes to mind: once Jesus has achieved his purpose (and therefore he has already fulfilled the Law and the Prophets), what is there for the disciple who wants to follow Christ, to do?  Jesus says that what motivates the disciple to act like him, is the disciple’s virtue, which, according to Jesus, should go deeper than that of the Scribes and the Pharisees.  For Jesus, if the virtue of his disciple does not go deeper and exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees… his disciple will never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

While now Jesus is saying that one can ‘not’ get into the Kingdom of Heaven, before Jesus said nothing about the refusal to enter.  Before, Jesus speaks about those who infringe one or more of what is written in the Law and the Prophets (the commandments) and teach others to do so.  These, who are called small/great in the Kingdom, have the will to abide with what is written.  For one reason or another they infringe what is written… Yet, there is still the possibility to enter into the Kingdom… But for those who just do what is requested in the Law and the Prophets for the simple reason of keeping the commandments, and do not try to exceed and therefore go deeper and understand why they should do so, Jesus says that these are not fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus then goes on to tell his disciples how they can fulfil the Law and the Prophets.  He takes what is written in the commandments one by one and explains his teaching about them: “It has been said… but I say this to you…”.  In other words the disciple can bring the Law and the Prophets to fulfilment if they keep in mind and obey what is written… having the virtue that Jesus is asking from them (that which goes deeper than that of the Scribes and the Pharisees), that which helps them to understand the meaning of what is in the Law and the Prophets.  We, as disciples of Christ, are we following the Law and the Prophets and are we trying to understand what is truly written in them?

“Lord, you followed and fulfilled the Law and the Prophets and asked us to do the same.  Help us to fulfil them in trying to understand their true meaning and live according to what they say.  Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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