One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

March 22, 2006

For Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Matthew 5:17-19

Today in his Gospel, Christ who is the Word of God tells us he has not come to get rid of the law of the Old Testament or the teachings of the Old Testament prophets.
He tells us he has come to FULFILL the laws and teachings of the Old Testament.
The word he chooses in the Gospel means to give or bring FULLNESS.
He says he has come to FULFILL, to give or bring FULLNESS to every dash and dot of every letter of the laws and teachings of God in the Old Testament.
After saying that, Christ right away begins to list a few commandments, although our reading today stops just before that.
Christ right away begins to quote six commandments.
To each commandment he adds new actions and new qualities making the commandment more full—but also more difficult to obey.
Finally, he ends up saying,


As if the Old Testament were not demanding enough, Christ adds to it.

Enter by the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide
and the way is easy that leads to destruction,
and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow
and the way is hard that leads to life,
and those who find it are few. [Mt. 7:13 14]

Keeping the dots, dashes and the fullness of the law and the prophecies is just the beginning of the narrow and hard way to eternal life.
The season of Lent is our concrete yearly reminder of the narrow and hard way of perfection and fullness that Christ teaches but that he also IS.
Christ teaches—and IS—the narrow and hard way of perfection and fullness.
This sounds PURITANICAL.
It does not feel like good news.
Nonetheless, Christ himself proves the real goodness, beauty, truth and joy to be found at the end of this way that he calls narrow and hard, the way of being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
By choosing to be in communion with the human race all the way to self-sacrifice, Christ brings absolute fullness and fulfillment to the ancient laws and teachings of God.
By communion with God and our neighbors even unto self-sacrifice we rise on the narrow road of holiness that both fulfills the letter of God’s laws and surpasses mere legalism.
In his Cross, in his Resurrection and in his Eucharist, Christ himself obeys and fulfills every dot and dash of the law.
God exceeds himself by pouring out his fullness and his Spirit, spending his body and shedding his blood to fulfill in himself his own law.
The law given and personally fulfilled by Christ in the Eucharist is written not on stone tablets, but in the Spirit, life, human flesh and blood, freedom and obedience of Christ.
He died offering himself for the sins of the world.
He rose from the dead, keeping and glorifying his communion with the human race.
He rose from the dead keeping and glorifying our race in communion with God.
He rose from the dead taking our race into the communion, Spirit and heart of God in heaven.
The Eucharist—in which God and the human race together in Christ are broken, poured out and eaten up—the Eucharist is the sign and place and presence of God’s exceeding wealth, glory, truth and freedom embracing, saving and dignifying our human lot.
What Christ commands of us in his Gospel he himself gives and fulfills in his Eucharist.
It is entirely ours to choose and live.

That God Be Glorified in All


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