In today’s First Reading Paul describes the old covenant, the one of Israel, in terms of death and condemnation and something that would fade away, but also as something glorious. It was a prelude to an even more glorious and enduring covenant, one qualified by God, spiritual, and life-giving through the power of the Spirit, a ministry of righteousness.
In this process the old covenant was not pointless; God doesn’t do anything pointless, everything is part of his loving plan for us. Our Lord in today’s Gospel reminds us of that. He hasn’t come to simply discard the old covenant, the “law and the prophets,” as never having had any purpose at all. Rather, he puts the old covenant’s purpose into context. Israel made an effort, sometimes mixed, to stay faithful to the covenant the Lord had established with them on Mt. Sinai. In other writings Paul describes the law stemming from this covenant as something educational for the immature: a preparation for something greater. The new covenant established by Christ and lived in Christianity is indebted to that process, which is why we often speak of a Judeo-Christian heritage and the Bible consists of the Old and the New Testaments. In the first centuries of Christianity certain groups tried to expunge any trace of Judaism from Christianity, and they were ignoring Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel. In his own words he did not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them.
Let’s ask Our Lord to help us today to understand the purpose of the traditions we live as Christians in order to live our faith more fully and not be quick to discard them as pointless. Christianity is not meant to fade away.
Readings: 2 Corinthians 3:4–11; Psalm 99:5–9; Matthew 5:17–19.