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Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent. The reading is from Gospel of Mathew 5:17-19

Teaching about the Law – Mathew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

Amen, I say to you, 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.

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so 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.

Jesus was, in fact, a loyal, law-abiding Jew who implicitly observed all the Jewish religious traditions.

Jesus certainly criticized the the corruptions in the institutional religion of his time. In John 2:14-16 we read: He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

And it was true that he antagonized the scribes and the pharisees by speaking disparagingly about them but he never called for the abolishment of the Jewish way of worship nor did he reject the Mosaic law preached by the priests. In Mathew 23:2-3, Jesus admonishes the crowds and the disciples, “… the scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” 

That’s why Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Mathew 5:17)

Jesus advises his disciples to follow God’s law, and not fight it, for “whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” And, if they followed the law, he tells them that they “will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” 

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