The Law and its fulfillment: love

Méditation VI Dimanche Temps Ordinaire – Année A – 12 février 2023 / Meditation VI Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – February 12, 2023.

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Mons. Francesco Follo

(ZENIT News / Paris, 02.09.2023).-


Roman Rite

Sir 15.16 to 21; Ps 119; 1 Cor 2.6 to 10; Mt 5.17 to 37

Ambrosian Rite

1 Sam 21, 2-6a; Ps 42; Heb 4, 14-16; Mt 12, 9b-21

VI Sunday after the Epiphany


1) Love is the fulfillment of the law.

The opening prayer of the Mass of this 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) says: “O God, you who reveal the fullness of the law in the new justice founded on love, make the Christian people, gathered to offer the perfect sacrifice, consistent with the demands of the Gospel, and be for every man a sign of reconciliation and peace “(Prayer of the sixth Sunday of the year).

With this prayer that sums up the Liturgy of the Word, the Church invites us to pray that the evangelical law of love may guide the thoughts and the actions of each one of us. When there is no love, everything becomes difficult, heavy, and often unacceptable. There is no human rule that can stand before those who do not love and do not feel in the heart the voice of God who is love. For this reason, the Liturgy makes us pray with this opening prayer that can be used every year: “O God, who teach us that you abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you. “. [1]

In fact, in today’s Gospel, Christ does not offer updated rules, improved because more complete. Saying: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets[2]; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill it “(Mt 5, 17), Jesus says that he wants to complete the Law and the Prophets. The Redeemer gives fulfillment to the law because, complying with it, carries it out and because, indicating love as a pivot of the law, completes it: everything is done in love.

Let us not forget that all the commandments are expression of God and the source of love among us. They are the cornerstone of life that builds the way to heaven, as -for example- the Book of Sirach reminds us: “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him. Immense is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power, and all-seeing. The eyes of God are on those who fear  him; he understands man’s every deed. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.“(Sir 15: 16-21 – First Reading of today’s Mass).

It is important to remember that already the Law (the Torah given to Moses) is a gift that God has given to his people to make them knowledgeable of his saving will. An example of this thinking can be found in Psalm 119 where the praises of the law are sung: “Be good to your servant, that I may live and keep your words. Open my eyes, that I may consider the wonders of your law. Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes, that I may observe them exactly. Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.”(Ps 118 17-18.34-36).

Today, with the new Law, Jesus, the new Moses, gives us a command teaching us to build our life and the relationship with the Lord as a response of love to his infinite love, the only true source of salvation. Salvation comes from the Lord, it is love, it is not from the law, it is not from our works but from God. Our works and the observance of precepts should be there, but in faith and in love. In faith, knowing that it is the Lord who gives us every grace and salvation, and we are happy to live in humility and truth before God. In love, that it is to be passionate and in love with God because He has conquered us. In love, that is sharing and giving ourselves to others excluding judgements, feeling superior, confrontation, contempt, and exclusion from the salvation of the Lord. These are the typical behaviors of the Pharisees and ours due to the many forms of self-righteousness that we carry inside.

2) But I say to you…

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, repeats several times: “But I say to you …” He does not oppose the Old Testament. The Lord does not want a formal fulfillment of the law that does not involve the heart. Knowing fully well that what pollutes a person is violence, judgments, and treasons coming out of the heart, he came to “fulfill” the old law. He has totally donated and offered himself to the Father and, risen from the dead, now he gives us a new spirit. We do not enter the Kingdom of God with the meticulous observance of the law, like the scribes and Pharisees did. Now a “higher justice is possible”: “Be holy as I am holy” (Lev 19, 2).

The “righteousness of the scribes and of the Pharisees” had, like ours, the limits of its own flesh because it is based on works that have lost the taste of gratuity and are a dead thing without the Spirit. This is demonstrated in today’s Gospel by the words of Jesus: ““You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, you shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, ‘You fool, ‘will be liable to fiery Gehenna “(Mt 5: 21s). These statements seem to say that Jesus pronounces absurd words such as: “A thought that just touches the mind and is like killing a man.” Pope Francis has clearly reminded that gossip and grudges are subtle and “easy” form of murder: “Those who in their hearts hate their brothers and sisters are murderers. We are used to gossiping. How often our communities, even our family, are a hell where this crime of killing our brother and the sister with the tongue is done! ”

They are paradoxical words that reveal the evil that flows into the hearts of all: if we are not able to “think well”, how could we being able to “do well”? We celebrate many Masses and prayers, we do many good words and give good advice, we have many humble eyes, but where is the heart? What happened to our neighbor, our father, mother, blood brothers and sisters, neighbors and coworkers, and the brothers and sisters in the community? Killed in the heart, buried, and forgotten.

It is not the good feelings but the heart (namely the root of our being) that must change.

The purpose of God’s law is nothing more than to cherish, nurture, and make man’s humanity blooming. That is why- I repeat- Jesus “commands “a single leap: conversion of the heart.

The conversion of heart is experienced by the Consecrated Virgins through their consecration and  the perseverance in a journey in which in each of them (but this is also true for each of us) Christ is everything: “We are all of the Lord, and Christ is everything for us: if you  desire to heal your wounds, he is a doctor; if you are distressed by the thirst of a burning fever, he is the spring; if you find yourself overwhelmed by guilt, he is justice; If you need help, he is strength; if you are afraid of death, he is life; if you desire heaven, he is the way; If you run from darkness, he is light; if you’re in search of food, he is nourishment “(St. Ambrose of Milan, De Virginibus, PL 16, 99).

The vocation of the Virgins is a call to bloom and to fulfill in Christ their humanity thanks to an angelic virtue. In this regard, St. Cyprian, writing to virgins, rightly says: “What we will be one day, you have already begun to be. You already possess in this world the glory of resurrection; you pass through the world without suffering its contamination. In preserving virginity and chastity, you are the equals of the angels of God “(De habitu virginum, 22: PL 4, 462).

Happy is the one who makes her life choices in the light of the law of the Lord and earnestly implores, through prayer, that the Lord will give her the strength to keep the law in her heart and observe it in everyday life.


[1] In Latin” Deus, qui te in rectis et sincéris manére pectóribus ásseris, da nobis tua grátia tales exsístere, in quibus habitáre dignéris”

[2] For the Jews the Law with the precepts and teachings of the Lord and the words of His servants (the prophets in fact) indicated the Bible.

To complete the information I’d like to remind you that the JEWISH BIBLE has 39 books divided as follows:

  1. The Torah (Pentateuch);
  2. The Prophets a) the first (Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings); b) the others (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12 minor prophets);
  3. The other writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Daniel, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles 1-2, Lamentations.

The CHRISTIAN BIBLE is made of 73 books

The Old Testament (46 books)

  1. The Pentateuch (corresponding  to the Hebrew Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
  2. The Historical Books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1-2 Maccabees)
  3. The Wisdom Books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach).
  4. The Prophetic Books: • major (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel) • minor (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).

The New Testament (27 books)

  1. Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
  2. Acts of the Apostles
  3. Letters (Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians 1-2, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, Peter 1-2, 1-2-3 John, Jude)
  4. Revelation
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