Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Within our Gospel reading Jesus declares to his disciples and the crowd that had gathered that he had not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it! But this means that Jesus must do something different to bring the law to fulfillment. In his time the law was utilized to keep the purity or spiritual cleanliness of the people. Anyone breaking the law would be found unclean and could not worship God in the temple or even in the outlying synagogues. For Jesus, the problem was not the law but how the law was being interpreted and used.
Jesus, however, interprets the law through the spirit of love. In many of Jesus’ teachings and in his healing miracles, the law is seen through the lenses of love and compassion to help bring people back into God’s community. So Jesus does not abolish the law but fulfills it by demonstrating the true meaning of the law in his sacrifice for all on the cross. The law of love is brought to fulfillment, and all barriers to God made by humanity are torn in two, like the temple cloth rent at the time of the crucifixion.
Legalism in the church still threatens God’s community. When rules and regulations of the church are designed or interpreted to keep people from worship of God or the community of the faith, they break the law of love.
The law of love is then the saltiness that we are to keep fresh in our hearts to add flavor to the lives of others. It is the light that we should not hide or keep to ourselves but shine forth to give light to all, that others may see and experience the love of God. It is through us and for all that the law of love may continue to be fulfilled.
Gregg Schafer, pastor, Morongo Moravian Church