“I have come not to abolish [the Law] but to fulfill.” (Mt. 5:17)
This week’s Gospel continues Jesus teaching on discipleship found in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7). After proclaiming the grace of discipleship in the Beatitudes and teaching the necessity of sharing God’s blessing with others, Jesus moves on to consider the role of the Law (Torah) in the disciple’s life.
The “New Law” of Christ is the fulfillment of the old law. It recognizes that the Law is a gift of God that has been placed in the disciple’s heart. The Catechism states,
“The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity an, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who ‘does not know what his master is doing’ to that of a friend of Christ – ‘For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you’ – or even to the staus of son and heir.” (CCC 1972)
Love, grace, and freedom. These are the gifts of the New Law of Christ. Following Jesus’ as a disciple demands a lot. In fact, being a disciple demands everything. Discipleship is a new way of life. A radical way of life that struggles to bring justice, love, and peace into a broken world. The demands of discipleship are written on our heart and come to us through the voice of conscience. By following these demands we are empowered to love and ultimately set free from our own selfishness.
The New Law of Christ is a gift. It is the way to joy and freedom.
P.S. For a fuller discussion of the role of conscience in guiding the life of a disciple, see an article by Cardinal Pell at: http://www.ewtn.com/library/BISHOPS/ZPELLNEW.HTM