Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Law Came Through Moses

 I spend a lot of time with St. John and his Gospel in general, but I read a line yesterday that got me thinking. "The law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John is not denigrating the law or Moses; rather, he is recognizing the superiority of Jesus and what he brings. The law, the prophets, and the sacrifices testified that something was still wrong. God is the lawgiver, but unless He gives the power for us to truly fulfill what He desires, we'll be simply chasing our tails, ever-desiring to be better, and to be happy, with no way to get there.

Without grace, all of this is just a hopeless, do-it-yourself, exhausting morality play. This is why St. Paul says, "we who are Jews by birth, and not Gentile sinners, know that a man is not justified by works of the law…" but by faith in Christ. He is not trying to create an opposition between Jews and everyone else, but exactly the opposite: it is now the time in the story when all people can receive grace and rest and peace with God through the Messiah. He is Israel's hope and consolation, and now he can be the hope and consolation for everyone.

I suppose if you break the word "religion" down, it means, "something which binds together". That is true, but it seems we have often had a tendency to focus on external observances, forgetting that we are more importantly bound together in the love of God in Christ Jesus. We have our practices, because we are frail creatures, for whom righteousness is neither natural, nor native to us. I suppose it's a bit like riding a bike, except that we have to keep practicing. In the spiritual life, we are ever and always the six-year-old, who just realized the training wheels aren't there.

At least Daddy is there to catch us, and to comfort us if we fall.