Forget what we ought to remember, remember what we ought to forget – Wednesday, Third week in Lent – Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9/ Matthew 5:17-19

There is much debate in the Catholic Church these days. The left and the right seem to have their views on the pontificate of Pope Francis, especially when he speaks off the cuff (which sadly has often left us confused). But look carefully and not one dot or one iota of the law of the Church has changed under his Pontificate. There have been debatable pastoral outreaches to various sections of catholic society but the fact remains that natural law cannot be changed by Pope Francis or any other Pope.

Apply this to the mandate that is found in scripture in both readings today. The people of Israel had wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. Their disobedience and sin had wearied the patience of God and we are told that he was “wrathful” (Deut 1:34) and he had decided that ‘not one of this generation should see the good land that he swore to give them.’ (Deut 1:36). Even Moses had to bear a great punishment on account of his people for he too would not enter the promised land (Deut 1:37)

A new generation of Israelites, the sons of Caleb and the sons of Joshua would enter the promised land. When the rest of the Israelites feared to enter the promised land on account of the military superiority of the Canaanites, Caleb expressed confidence that the Israelite invasion would be successful. He and Joshua alone, among the first generation of the Israelites of the Exodus, were allowed by God to settle in Canaan before dying.

It is to this new generation that Moses will instruct ad nauseum from chapters 5-26 of the book of Deuteronomy. Four times in this book he says, “Hear Oh Israel” in some form or the other, harkening Israel to obey the commandments of God. Verse two of chapter four (not in our reading of today) tells us that God’s commandments ‘cannot be added to or taken away.’ This is a perfect law and should they be kept ‘diligently,’ the way God gave it to them. The practice of God’s law will show the other nations the ‘wisdom and discernment’ of God’s people and acknowledge God’s people as ‘wise and discerning.’ (Deut1:6)

So why does Christianity not flourish today as it ought to? Because we, like the older generation of Israelites, keep breaking God’s law. The consequence of our disobedience is clear; we too will not enter heaven; God’s promised land to us.

In the Gospel of today, Jesus reiterates the teaching of Deuteronomy. Perhaps many of the scribes and Pharisees saw in the pastoral actions of Jesus, a rabble-rouser who had come to change the law. Jesus is emphatic, “not one dot, not one little stroke shall disappear.” Yet one might be compelled to ask, “Did Christ not break the sabbath when he healed on that day? Was there to be no work to be done on this day?

Christ tells us in the Gospel, “I have not come to abolish the law or the prophets, I have come to fulfil it.” The commandments of God on the sabbath were clear and simple, “you shall keep it holy.” This was all God asked from us on the Sabbath. It was man, who over the years interpreted it to their understanding. By the time of Christ, this simple law on the sabbath had 39 restrictions with several interpretations attached to each one.

Don’t blame God for what man has done. Keep his law as he has asked us to. “Observe them so that you may live.” (Deut 4:1) Sadly, most people live with the belief that laws kill our joy; Deuteronomy tells us otherwise.

We want to conveniently forget the law of God and interpret it the way we think it should apply to us. This is the work of satan who makes us forget what we ought to remember and remember what we ought to forget.

Spread the love ♥
Continue Reading