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Wednesday, Third Week of Lent

March 14, 2007

Blessed Wednesday!

Readings:
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9 (God’s law gives justice, intelligence and wisdom)
Psalm 147:12-20 “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem”
+Matthew 5:17-19 (Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it)

There’s a lot to be said for learning things the easy way.

We have a hard enough time doing what’s right when we know what’s
right, without having to rediscover for ourselves the laws God’s built
into the universe. That’s why God puts so much emphasis on the
commandments. He’s already told us everything we need to know to
navigate the dangerous waters of this sin-infested world so that we
don’t become shark-bait before we reach the heavenly port. He’s
told us how to stay spiritually, emotionally, mentally and socially
healthy.

And as a good teacher, He knows that hearing it once isn’t enough. It
goes in one ear & out the other. Or we forget. Or we misunderstand.
So He tells us again and again in different ways, and He gives us
incentives to learn. In today’s first reading, taken from Moses’ last
instructions to the people he’s led out of Egypt to the threshold of the
Promised Land, God repeats once more just how important it is to keep
these laws. Not only will this please Him and make our lives run
smoothly, but this way of life will also prove us wise and intelligent.
Who doesn’t want to be thought of as wise and intelligent? And what is
wisdom, what is intelligence, but knowing the right answers, knowing how
things work and cooperating with that knowledge? Isn’t it handy that we
don’t have to be rocket scientists to figure it out? God’s already
given us all the answers!

He even teaches us study skills. As any teacher can attest, we learn a
lot more about a topic by trying to teach it than by taking a class
about it. God tells us to teach His Laws to our children and our
children’s children, to speak of them at home and abroad, whether we are
busy or at rest, to carry them with us, and post them where we will see
them regularly (see Deuteronomy 6:7-9).

When Jesus came, giving us a whole new dimension of this Law, some
thought He meant to replace it. This is what He refutes so clearly in
today’s Gospel. He didn’t come to abolish the Law. He didn’t come to
throw away our textbook on life. One who goes to high school doesn’t
reject what they learned in kindergarten. They build on it. They learn
to use that early knowledge more effectively and go into greater depth.
They begin to understand the “why” behind the “what” (hopefully!). This
is what Jesus came to teach us. He came to take us to a whole new level
of understanding by revealing the meaning behind the Law: self-giving,
self-sacrificing love. Knowing this, we can move forward. Instead of
just avoiding the bad, we can grow in the good, grow in love. The more
we grow in true love, the less we will be tempted to break the Law. Sin
will begin to lose its attractiveness. Ultimately, in heaven, sin will
have no attraction for us whatsoever. In the meantime, we still need
the Law to protect us from the desires of our hearts that have not yet
been purified by love.

May we be eager, humbly teachable students of God’s Law of love.

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