Reading 1: Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9; Gospel :Matthew 5:17-19
The man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven
No one likes laws, except the lawmakers! They are perceived as restricting our freedom. But can we live without laws? Impossible! Everything in the universe follows its own laws. The laws of physics, given by the Creator, keep the universe together and functioning. The law of gravitation is a good example. It seems to bind us to the earth, but just imagine if gravity is missing. We will not be on this earth, and the earth will not be in its position that makes life possible! The laws of a country define the rights and duties of citizens which make an orderly life possible. Rather than being imposed rules, they are systems of living, which facilitate the lives of those who obey them. Take the traffic laws. Without them, travelling on our roads would be impossible!
Obeying laws therefore is liberating, not merely binding. They seem to bind, but they liberate in reality. God’s laws fall eminently into this category. Moses tells the Israelites to observe the laws God gives, ‘that they may live and take possession of the land that God gives them’ (first reading). If laws are life-giving then one understands why Jesus says the one who keeps them in letter and spirit is great in the Kingdom of Heaven. And the one who infringes even the least of these, loses something of life, and hence he becomes lesser in the Kingdom.
Of course, there are laws and laws. There are some made by men, not in view of common good, but for the advantage of some and for the exploitation of many. There are laws made against God’s laws! In these cases, they bring death, not life. A believer has the right and the duty to reject and break them!