Covenant of Love



 Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;

I have come not to abolish but to fulfill…

Let your word be ‘Yes’ if ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ if ‘No’;

anything more than this comes from the evil one.

      Matthew 5:17-3


Jesus was continually challenged by the religious leaders regarding the Law of Moses. Jesus said that he had come to fulfill the Law, not do away with it. By his life and teachings, Jesus embodied the Law, raising it to new heights and deepening its meaning. He said that obeying the external "letter" of the Law was not as important as the interior spirit of fidelity to God's purpose, which was to bring people into proper relationship with God and one another. While murder was forbidden, Jesus also disapproved of anger, the motive behind murder. Jesus denounced infidelity, but he also opposed lust and permissiveness.


Among Christians who were honest in their dealings with others, a simple "Yes" or "No" made oaths unnecessary. Jesus invited his disciples to move beyond "an eye for an eye" in seeking vengeance. He asked, ‘Can you love your enemy? Can you let go of bitterness, hatred and murderous thoughts, and give back understanding, forgiveness and healing?’ Jesus declared that anyone who had ill-will toward another must first go and be reconciled with that person before coming to the altar to worship God. Without a willingness to have one's heart changed, salvation could not be experienced.


In today’s Gospel, we cannot help but pick up on the urgency in Jesus’ tone of voice. He so wanted his listeners to grasp that this obedience to the LAW was not going to be enough to partake fully in the life of the Kingdom of God. Here the rule is LOVE, an all-encompassing love. This new Covenant of Love with humanity he had come to establish here and now. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  Their teachers up to now, the scribes and Pharisees, were so hung up on keeping the Mosaic rules and in doing so with such microscopic accuracy; they had lost touch with their hearts and their interior capacity to love one another. Rules should always be the scaffolding for creating an atmosphere of respect and trust, but they can become mere protectors of self-interest.


There is more to good living and virtue than rules. 'If your virtue goes no deeper than the scribes, you will never get into heaven.' You will never enter into ‘the knowing’ of what kingdom living is all about! So Jesus challenged the people of his time and he challenges us today with: 'You have learned… but I say to you…' He asks for much more than rules from his followers. He asks us to live with growing love in our hearts and to make sure that this love permeates every family, every institution and every group to which we belong.


Yes, Jesus responded to them with a teaching on love. His teaching was so radically different from theirs that they thought he was a heretic. Since Jesus was about to contrast what he said and what the Old Testament said, he did not want to leave the impression that He came to abolish (literally undo) the Law and Prophets. No, He is the fulfillment of that! The terms “Law” and “Prophets” refer to two of the three major divisions of the Hebrew Bible. The third is the Psalms. Jesus fulfilled the moral and spiritual codes with His life and work. There are three codes in the Mosaic Law:


  • The moral code or commandments shows God’s standards for fellowship with Him.
  • The spiritual code or ordinances shows the coming Messiah by type.
  • The social code or laws of Israel’s national society.


Jesus speaks forthrightly to the disciples about murder, divorce, swearing and other difficult human situations. He speaks directly and in-your-face about these very real challenges and difficulties in human encounters and relationships that people are facing. Even with the rules and the LAW these breakdowns and ruptures still happen here in the human condition. What can we do about it? Where comes some help to deal with these matters. Even the strict moral Law and its severe consequences do not bring forth an end to these occurrences within the human family. We need help! Jesus hears their silent plea. He goes beyond the outer observance of these laws to unmask humanity’s real deep desire to seek some fuller truth on these difficult moral and social matters. Looking for an answer, a solution to a moral dilemma, they have already come to realize the insufficiency of their existing Laws. They do not satisfy their heart’s longing and desire and so they are looking to Jesus, searching for some more wisdom.


Then as now, clearly defined moral laws do not satisfy totally the human spirit.  We were created not for Law but for Love. Mere conformity with the laws and prescriptions will never provide security and peace. For example, Moses had allowed them to write up a note of dismissal, to divorce. They already had a law, yet they ask Jesus “It is against the law to divorce?” Knowing the law, having a law, does not negate the person’s freedom and responsibility in such a situation. The human person must search his or her heart in each unique situation for what God is calling one to do; what is the loving thing to do. 


What does love demand in this situation? Once again, we see demonstrated how beautifully Jesus instructs – the pastoral minister par excellence.  He takes persons where they are and lifts their vision to transcend the Mosaic Law regarding divorce and points them to the principle of love – to the Divine Law of Love.  Love which transcends all codes, laws, commandments; encompasses them but never is wholly contained within them.  Love is the highest law. It is love which calls us to respond in freedom, in responsibility to the maximum of our potential and with the utmost of our capacity to think, to choose, to love.


Jesus helps them to see that it is not just against the law to divorce, but it is against love, to divorce. The very nature of love is to unite, and a union of love, if that is what it really is, is sacred, is created by God.  For any person to loose away or cut oneself off from such a relationship, is a violation against love.  “What God has united, man must not divide.”  This sacredness and indissolubility of union be it in human marriage or in the spiritual marriage of the soul with God is crystallized in these words of the Genesis author: “two become one.”  So simple, yet so powerful a truth! Two becoming one, two coming-to-be-one, reminds us that this is a loving activity, a process. Such union involves a whole inner and outer dynamic.  It does not happen all at once, on one’s wedding day or on one’s day of consecration. It begins with the mutual attraction for the other, the mutual loving, longing and desire for the other. 


As deeply as one is in love, one wants to love more. It is of the nature of love to always want to love more deeply, more purely, to love equally…and so the on-going intensification of love. In the process of “the two becoming one” there is always a self-emptying, a surrender of the gift of oneself to the other and an opening to receive the other. 


Jesus clearly reveals the depth that this Covenant of Love will take us. It will cost. There will be sacrifice. There will be dying to our egoic desires, lusts, angers and resentments.All kinds of immaturity and frustration may be part of the maturing process. All love involves sacrifice, suffering and trials, but “perfect love makes it a joy”.


The shining hope in today’s Gospel is Jesus’ proclamation that no longer will there be this insatiable need to keep collapsing back into those repetitive cycles of such human folly. Now, we must collapse into the indwelling GOD of LOVE who alone will be the interior guide, solace and strength in times of human ruptures in relationships. I will be there. I will be your light and the source of a greater LOVE that is capable of healing, reconciling and restoring couples, families, communities back into right relationship. Over time, the purification of these root disorders diminsh - no more angers, no more lusts, no more jealousies, no more righteousness. Just a simple ‘Yes’ or a simple ‘No’ becomes enough to hold the truth and a peaceful harmony with what is 'right here, right now.'


We are no longer at an impasse! As each one of us turns inward and pursues this all-loving God, we note that there are progressive intensifications as we draw closer to the threshold of actual union. The distance between opposites, narrows, the harmony of wills blends more and more as one, until the final abandonment peaks in an embrace of love.  This experience of ‘Touching Oneness’, the soul, now in a ‘spiritual marriage’ celebrates in the words of St. Paul: “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.” No longer, my will and God’s will, it is our will. The two have become one. No longer my mission and God’s mission, it is our mission. The two become one. Love has made it so.  A love union such as this cannot be separated.  It endures for all time and for all eternity. 


The Incarnation, God-taking-on-flesh, God’s marriage with humanity, is perhaps the most radical and extravagant expression of God’s self-giving love. It is our enduring hope of our marriage with Divinity. Someday we two shall be one.  And in that day – the Eternal Now – we will mutually delight in each other.

Carrying Grace        Celebrate your covenant of love with the Great Lover God.


#2 arletteh 2011-02-12 20:42
Lead us, Shepherd, lead us !
#1 arletteh 2011-02-12 20:40
Jesus works out of the level of compassion, of total acceptance of us as we are at the time, and thus out of forgiveness. He works from authentic love, that, moment by moment, can be renewed, from the depths of the human heart, where God and we can meet. From those depths, any “microscopic” analysis and easy condemnation can quickly be silenced: the “ lawyers,” including us, will slink away silently.When the way of God’s great love is modeled, it is quickly recognized, (if not always admitted!) Yes, that blueprint of Love resides in our souls! But there is a “cost”! Jesus modeled this to his very last breath. If we can argue according to the letter of the law, we can, seeing the cost ahead, use argument to avoid giving totally, and exit, feeling justified. O, Great Lover God, give us the open ear, the listening heart, the generosity, the awesome courage, the trust, to descend into the depths of our hearts and souls where and when You lead us, where You are waiting for us. Lead us, Shepherd, lead us !

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