Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (5: 17-19) where Jesus says to his disciples ‘do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them’.
Fr Paul says, God’s covenant with Moses on Mount Sinai was the basis of life in Israel. It gave the terms under which Israel were to be God’s people, and so providing a revelation of the nature of God himself.
Fr Paul says, so much of Christianity comes straight from this Law, not only beliefs but also behaviour. And yet Jesus, while remaining faithful to this Law, gives it his own emphasis, often quoting the Bible itself. For example, ‘my pleasure is in mercy not sacrifice’ (Hosea 6:6, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 9:13) gives a whole new dimension to worship and forgiveness. Putting love of neighbour on a level with the first commandment of love of God (bringing Leviticus 19:18 to the level of Deuteronomy 6:4, as in Mark 12:29) gives a new emphasis on the treatment of others. Perhaps most of all, it was Jesus’ awareness of the full meaning of what it is to be the Servant of the Lord God prophesied in Isaiah, that led to his act of perfect, loving obedience on the Cross.
Fr Paul says, the Aramaic word Amen must have been one of the features of Jesus’ teaching. The basic idea of the word is ‘truth, firmness, reliability’. It is used frequently in the Old Testament to express acceptance of, or agreement with a statement, prayer or oath to another, ‘I agree’.
Fr Paul says, when Paul teaches that Jesus is the Amen to all God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1.20) he also means that Jesus is the confirmation or certainty of God’s promises. In the Gospel of John, Jesus frequently doubles the expression for strong emphasis.
For today’s reflection, Fr Paul invites us to consider these questions: ‘we might live faith-filled, law-abiding lives but like Jesus, how can I do more?