Following the Law

Once I celebrated Mass in a condominium complex. In front of where the Mass was being held were two condominium buildings. One was very nice, very clean, and very orderly. The other building was very dirty, chaotic and a place you would not be excited to go home. After the Mass, I asked a resident why the stark difference in the two buildings? He said that while both have homeowner associations, in one building, the clean one, the residents decided to follow the law. In the other building, the residents decided to disregard the law and to just do whatever they please. Hence, the dirt and the chaos.

In discussing the law, Jesus in the Gospel said that He came to fulfill the law. And how does he do it? He puts the law of love first. Notice when he was approached by a rich man who was faithful to the law but could not let go of his material possessions, Jesus did not condemn the rich man. He looked compassionately upon him.

Three reflections on the Law of Love of Christ

  1. Jesus reminds us to do things out of love and not fear. Many of us grew up being motivated by fear: “If you do not finish your food, you will go to purgatory.” “Be quiet, the police will get you.” Go to Mass or if not you will go to hell.” Especially, when it comes to matters of faith, let us do things not out of fear, not out of habit but because we love God.
  2. Jesus knows that conversion comes from the heart. Notice the many people in the Gospel were converted because of compassion. He knew that an “Eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is a just law, yet he had a higher response, compassion to those whose hearts are open.
  3. In the end, we will be judged by how much we have loved. In the end, it is not what we have achieved or accomplished; it is not how much we have accumulated; it is not what title is attached to our name; it how much we have loved. “When I was hungry, did you give me something to eat? Thirsty, something to drink? Naked and you clothed me?…”

When we were students in elementary school there was a song that we heard often in Mass: “They will know we are Christians by our love.” In today’s world, there is so much uncertainty, fear, worry, and anxiety. How appropriate is a quote: “Until the power of love overcomes the love of power, it is only then that the world will experience peace.”

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