Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9 and Matthew 5: 17-19
In our contemporary quest to champion the ideals of personal liberty and autonomy, we all too frequently view laws as limitations or obstacles, things that hamper or stifle our individual freedom to do whatever we choose. And yet, the People of Israel had a very different take on the statutes and decrees commanded by God, the Law that governed seemingly every aspect of their daily lives. With the Lord God as its author, the Law reassured them that no part of the human experience was too irrelevant or insignificant to escape the attention and concern of the Creator.
Christians who think that Jesus came to abrogate the Law of ancient Israel, may be a little surprised by Christ’s words in today’s gospel, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets… until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law.” We are well-reminded of our need to recover the Jewish perspective of the Law that emphasizes God’s engagement and interest in the minute details of our lives. Our God is not aloof; our God is not one who occasionally “checks in” much less one who is unconcerned, or even worse, who ignores our day-to-day existence.
The modern temptation to segment and categorize our lives, to assign only specific times of the day or week as occasions when we contemplate God, must be overcome. The season of Lent challenges us to give ourselves over totally to God, and to realize that God desires to touch and sanctify every facet of our lives, even those areas that we might think are trivial and inconsequential.
Kenneth D. Snyder, Ph.D.
The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity
of the University of St. Thomas