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12th February, 2017 - 6th Sunday of the Year

posted 10 Feb 2017, 05:24 by Veronica Yarwood


H.B. & Hw.

 

"In Praise of the Divine Law" Psalm 118 has 176 verses.

And that is a lot of verses in praise of the law. I think we

are in danger of being out of sympathy with our rapturous

Psalmist. We tend to emphasise love as the motive power

in Christian life. We tend to forget and we tend to play

down the reality of the commandments. We all know that

the Ten Commandments can be reduced to two: love of

God and love of neighbour. This is not surprising. The

first group of commandments deal with God and our

relationship with him. The second group treats of our

relationship to our fellow men, our brothers and sisters.

We can go on to say that all the commandments can be

reduced quite simply to one, the law of love. But it is

equally true that this one commandment or these two

contain all ten. Love is genuine only when it keeps all

God's commandments. Without some objectivity the law

of love soon becomes sheer emotion. And after all, Christ

did say, "If you love me, you will keep my

commandment." (John 14.15)

For the Christian there is no conflict between love and law.

And let's not imagine that the fulfilment of the law leads to

formalistic religion. If it does, it is not the law that is being

fulfilled. For the follower of Christ, the commandments

are just that, commandments, not prohibitions. It is not a

case of "Thou shalt not kill". Rather it is a case of "You

shall keep alive and respect your fellow men" and all that

implies. It is not a case of "Thou shalt not bear false

witness." Rather it is a case of "You shall be truthful". In

other words, the commandments are not restrictive. They

do not simply indicate the minimum required for salvation

or the wellbeing of society. No, their object is unlimited.

Christ and his law of love are not opposed, then, to the law

and the prophets. Christ is their fulfilment. There is

perfect continuity between the Law of Moses and the Law

of Christ. But Christ will not let anyone off with a

superficial interpretation of the Law. Christ's Law is new

precisely because he uncovers for the first time in the

history of mankind, the limitless demands of the Mosaic

Law. Christ's interpretation of the Law and the Prophets

and a Christ-like fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets

present us with the possibility of being perfect. Quite a

possibility! Enough to make one of us sit down and write a

psalm in praise of the divine law 176 verses long!

In Matthew 5.48, the Lord leaves us in no doubt, "You

must therefore, be perfect just as your heavenly Father is

perfect."  This text takes us all the way back to the Book of

Leviticus 19.2 "Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am

holy." James gives us the New Testament understanding

with  . . “you will become fully developed, complete with

nothing missing” (1.4). And Peter reminds us once again,

"... the scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy." (JP.1.16)

 

The Law then, fulfilled in Jesus Christ calls us to the

perfection that is the God-life, nothing less. So "These are

the very things that God has revealed to us through the

Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even

(even) the depths of God." (1 Cor 2.10)

And "No one is going to be surprised in eternity!" to quote

some of our saints. "We will all receive exactly what our

lives say we really want and desire: Love that God is and

we are called to be" is always torment for the hateful, and

final torment is impossible for the loving."


Sources: Clergy Review. Feb., 1972 Lionel Swain Scripture in Church. No. 5

Wondrous Encounters. Richard Rohr

 

 

12th  February, 2017  - 6th  Sunday of the Year

H.B. & Hw.

 

"In Praise of the Divine Law" Psalm 118 has 176 verses.

And that is a lot of verses in praise of the law. I think we

are in danger of being out of sympathy with our rapturous

Psalmist. We tend to emphasise love as the motive power

in Christian life. We tend to forget and we tend to play

down the reality of the commandments. We all know that

the Ten Commandments can be reduced to two: love of

God and love of neighbour. This is not surprising. The

first group of commandments deal with God and our

relationship with him. The second group treats of our

relationship to our fellow men, our brothers and sisters.

We can go on to say that all the commandments can be

reduced quite simply to one, the law of love. But it is

equally true that this one commandment or these two

contain all ten. Love is genuine only when it keeps all

God's commandments. Without some objectivity the law

of love soon becomes sheer emotion. And after all, Christ

did say, "If you love me, you will keep my

commandment." (John 14.15)

For the Christian there is no conflict between love and law.

And let's not imagine that the fulfilment of the law leads to

formalistic religion. If it does, it is not the law that is being

fulfilled. For the follower of Christ, the commandments

are just that, commandments, not prohibitions. It is not a

case of "Thou shalt not kill". Rather it is a case of "You

shall keep alive and respect your fellow men" and all that

implies. It is not a case of "Thou shalt not bear false

witness." Rather it is a case of "You shall be truthful". In

other words, the commandments are not restrictive. They

do not simply indicate the minimum required for salvation

or the wellbeing of society. No, their object is unlimited.

Christ and his law of love are not opposed, then, to the law

and the prophets. Christ is their fulfilment. There is

perfect continuity between the Law of Moses and the Law

of Christ. But Christ will not let anyone off with a

superficial interpretation of the Law. Christ's Law is new

precisely because he uncovers for the first time in the

history of mankind, the limitless demands of the Mosaic

Law. Christ's interpretation of the Law and the Prophets

and a Christ-like fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets

present us with the possibility of being perfect. Quite a

possibility! Enough to make one of us sit down and write a

psalm in praise of the divine law 176 verses long!

In Matthew 5.48, the Lord leaves us in no doubt, "You

must therefore, be perfect just as your heavenly Father is

perfect."  This text takes us all the way back to the Book of

Leviticus 19.2 "Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am

holy." James gives us the New Testament understanding

with  . . “you will become fully developed, complete with

nothing missing” (1.4). And Peter reminds us once again,

"... the scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy." (JP.1.16)

 

The Law then, fulfilled in Jesus Christ calls us to the

perfection that is the God-life, nothing less. So "These are

the very things that God has revealed to us through the

Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even

(even) the depths of God." (1 Cor 2.10)

And "No one is going to be surprised in eternity!" to quote

some of our saints. "We will all receive exactly what our

lives say we really want and desire: Love that God is and

we are called to be" is always torment for the hateful, and

final torment is impossible for the loving."

- - - - - -

Sources: Clergy Review. Feb., 1972 Lionel Swain Scripture in Church. No. 5

Wondrous Encounters. Richard Rohr

 

 

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