Living the Law

First Reading
Ecclesiasticus 15:15–20
The eyes of God see all he has made.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 119:1–2,4–5, 17–18,33–34
Happy are those who walk in the way of the Lord.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 2:6–10
God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:17–37
I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfil them.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Matthew continues the Sermon on the Mount with a three-part instruction by Jesus on the Way of Life in the kingdom of heaven. Today’s reading is part one and deals with the Law. Part two deals with worship and religious practice and contains the Lord’s Prayer. Part three deals with trusting God and deeds of loving service to our neighbour.

When Matthew speaks of “the Law and the prophets” he means the whole Scripture. When the Messiah brings the fullness of the kingdom none of the scripture will be done away with. Instead, it will be fulfilled. Matthew’s Jesus does not overturn the Law of Moses, nor does he set his followers free from the Law. He requires his followers to go beyond the Law by doing more than the Law requires.

The Law condemned murder, Jesus condemns anger. The Law condemned adultery. Jesus condemns even lustful looks. As Jewish Christians who had always been faithful to the Law Matthew’s community need a way to understand the difference Jesus and the kingdom he brings have made. They affirmed that God had always been at work in history through “the Law and the prophets.” But God’s work goes beyond that to be embodied by the Messiah who reveals the definitive will of God. The written scriptures and their interpretation in tradition are surpassed by Jesus whose life and teaching are the definitive revelation of the will of God.


The call to holiness is a very radical one. Sometimes the demands of the Gospel can seem incredibly hard and also seem to offer little reward in this present life. How committed are we to our Faith?

Is it useful to us only when we are in trouble or do we live it out every moment of the day?

St John Vianney said, “I love you, oh my God, and my only desire is to love You until my last breath” – do we reproduce that desire in our own lives?

Living the Law