Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill”.
The law and prophet refer not only to the most venerated portions of the Hebrew canon but more broadly to the story of Israel’s often troubled but always mercied relationship with God. And the Scriptures record again and again God’s yes to the question about the special people, even in the face of Israel’s persistent resistance to God’s call and will. God needed a people to come out of slavery and empire and be redeemed. God did not need an imperial juggernaut, an unconquerable military power, or a people who outdid the surrounding nations in building cities and temples, although Israel tried at times to be and to do just that. God needed instead a people through whom mercy, love, forgiveness, and faithfulness – in short, God’s own righteousness – would be evident.
The whole law, all 613 commandments, was meant to reveal to Israel and to enable Israel to reveal to the nations what it meant to be God‘s people. To us, it seems that keeping the law is a personal, individual matter, but for Israel, and especially for Jesus, it was that redemptive revelatory expression of God‘s presence in the life of the whole people. God’s aim in giving the law and prophets to Israel was not to produce a collection of heroically righteous individuals but to shape a just and faithful society that would be a light to the nations.
The law and prophet were meant to create a particular kind of community and model for how to live peacefully, justly, and faithfully with others in God’s good creation, precisely what Jesus seeks to accomplish in his teaching, in his ministry, and especially through his death and resurrection. Jesus supplants neither Law nor Israel itself but redeems and fulfils the intention of both.
Does God need people who divide the world into the righteous and the unrighteous, Or whose righteousness consists of mercy, love of neighbours and enemies and relationships made whole?
Giltus Mathias CP, is a Passionists, he lives at St.Brigid’s Marrickville.