Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ is our Lord and Messiah. His coming was told in the numerous prophecies by the prophets as written throughout the Old Testament of the Scripture. His coming was indeed not to destroy the Law as written in the Scripture, and not to abolish the teachings of the prophets and the Law and commandments that God has given to Moses, but to fulfill and complete all the prophecies made about Him.
In the first reading today, we also heard about how the ‘text’ of the Law brings death, while the Spirit brings life, and it also seemingly criticise those who minister to the Law. In this we can clearly see, that in his letter to the faithful in Corinth, he was referring to the chief priests and the Pharisees, whom Christ repeatedly called hypocrites, and whom repeatedly had caused troubles during the Lord’s earthly ministry.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, today we are called to live out the Law of God, the Law which God had given to Moses, and then perfected and completely fulfilled by Christ, His Son, that we do not become slaves to the Law, but become alive due to that Law, which is, according to Christ, is all about love, for God Himself is love.
The chief priests and the Pharisees had grown so accustomed and so attached to the Law, that they had entirely forgotten the Spirit of the Law, that is love, and they had entirely misunderstood the meaning of the Law, and its purpose, becoming instead mindless slaves to their own human traditions, which their ancestors established in rituals and traditions to worship the Lord, but over time, becoming corrupted with worldly desires and impurities.
Rituals and observations of the Law had become empty, and prayers had become stale, and lacking the freshness of the Spirit of the Lord. That was what Christ had criticised, when the Pharisees went praying in the public places, showcasing their piety for all to see. That they love human glory instead of seeking heavenly glory of God and praising God, and instead of using the Law as it is intended, they had abused it to their own purposes.
That is why Christ came into our world, not just to be our Saviour, but also to perfect the Law of God, and to explain them clearly to the people of God, that they would no longer misinterpret the Law and therefore sin in the eyes of the Lord. He revealed to those whom He had chosen and those who were willing to listen to His word.
The same too, brothers and sisters in Christ, applies to our Church today. We have our own Law in the Church, that is the Canon Law, to regulate matters pertaining to the Church and the faithful in God, and also the liturgical laws to regulate the way we worship the Law with its rituals and observations, much like that observed by the priests of Israel of old, and during Jesus’ time.
We have to obey these laws and norms, my brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly regarding the Mass and the liturgy, because in the Mass we worship the Lord Himself, and we have to do it worthily. Sadly, there are many today who simply do not care about the liturgy and the proper worship of the Mass as written in the Law of the Church, as are evident in the numerous liturgical abuses in the Masses all around the world.
What is important is, not that we should not obey these laws, nor should we disregard them, but to understand them, by proper preparation and explanations, just as Christ Himself once had done regarding the Laws of Moses, which were given by God. A proper understanding of our Church laws and the liturgical norms in the Mass is a must, brothers and sisters, for improper understanding will certainly lead us astray from God.
But on the other hand, neither should we be so fixated on the rules and the Law that we end up doing everything just for the sake of obeying the Law. Then in that case we are no better than the Pharisees and the chief priest of Jesus’ time. We should not follow the rules simply for the sake of obeying the rules and looking good in the eyes of others.
A simple example would indeed be, the obligation for all of us to attend the Sunday Mass. While it may seem to be trivial, but how many of us actually come to the Mass because we want to come to the Mass and worship the Lord, as all of us should be? I am certain that many of us came to the Mass because we feel that it is an obligation to do so, and being good Catholics, we ‘obeyed’. But, this is not good, because if we do it this way, our heart will not be fully in the Mass, not fully attuned to the worship of the Lord, because our mind and our heart are elsewhere, in our businesses, our other occupations, and not focused towards the Lord.
No, when we come for the Mass, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us make sure that we truly come to be with God, to love our God, and to praise Him and give thanks to Him for all the good graces and blessings that He had given us. Seek to understand more about our faith and about the Mass from those who have the knowledge and are qualified to teach about the faith to others. Remember, obey the Law because we love the Law and understand it, not just for the sake of obedience, or worse, as a symbol of self-gratification and self-glorification. Amen.