Christ is law’s fulfilment and perfection

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

CHRIST himself said so in no uncertain terms. In the gospel of St. Matthew (5,17-19) which happens to be the gospel reading of the Mass on Wednesday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, he said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not abolish but to fulfil.”

And he continued, emphasizing how absolutely important and indispensable he as the fulfilment of the law is, by saying: “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.”

Still more, he warned us that “whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”            Christ is not saying that the laws as articulated by the prophets and all the other God-sent messengers, and now the laws that we make, are useless or obsolete. They are always useful and relevant. But they can only go so far, and the best thing that they can do is to lead us to law’s perfection who is Christ, the original lawgiver and the very embodiment of what is meant to be a law.

We should not get stuck with our human laws. We have to try our best to go beyond them, always pursuing the ultimate expression of the law by progressively identifying ourselves with Christ, acquiring his very spirit which is actually meant for us, since we are God’s image and likeness, sharers of his divine life and nature.

Christ as the perfection and fulfilment of any law we have is not concerned only about facts and data, about who committed some mistake and crime and who ought to be rewarded for some good deeds. He is not just after retributive justice. Christ as the perfection and fulfilment of any law we have, is also concerned about these, but goes far beyond them.

Christ as the perfection and fulfilment of any law perfectly blends truth, justice, mercy, compassion, magnanimity, etc. Christ sees far beyond the mere appearances of persons and the things they do. Christ sees them ultimately as children of God who, in spite of whatever mistakes, offenses and sins they commit, always deserve to be saved, to be pardoned and rehabilitated. Christ sees them in their ultimate spiritual and supernatural dignity, and not just their natural status.

He even goes to the extent of offering his life as a ransom for all our sins. He offers forgiveness even if we have not yet asked for forgiveness, as when he appealed to the Father, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Of course, actual forgiveness would also depend on us, on whether we at least show some signs of repentance and conversion.

So, we should try our best to make Christ as the guide when we make our laws.  He is the one who can interpret our laws properly. He is the one that would give our laws their proper spirit, which in the end is the spirit of charity that summarizes and perfects all virtues and values.

Without Christ, our laws would unavoidably become rigid and harsh in certain instances. They would tend to absolutize certain things that actually should only have relative value. They would hardly recognize their limits, and so would find it hard to accept exceptions.



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