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March 22, Kofi, SJ - Jesuits of North-West Africa Province | Society of Jesus

Wednesday, Third Week of Lent

March 22, 2017

Reading 1: Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9      Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19

By *Mr. Nana Kofi Agyapong, SJ


The texts that the Church offers us today highlight an indispensable element for every communal life: laws. For any society to exist and function properly, it must be governed by laws. By their very essence, laws are at the origin of every social justice, peace and harmony. In fact, just laws inspire thoughts, words and actions of all who are in love with a just and peaceful life.


In the same light, Moses, God's mouthpiece and the people's guide on their way to the promise land, refers to the laws as statutes and ordinances received from God. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were confronted with the problem of organization given that they once lived under the laws of their Egyptian masters. God, who wanted to bring order to life of his chosen people, gave them the Ten Commandments through Moses. The Ten Commandments constitute the intelligence and wisdom of the people. As intelligence, the commandments enable the people to understand the world so as to discern the ideal way of living. And as wisdom, it enlightens the people to make the right choices at the right time in order to remain faithful to the will of God.


We can deduce from today's readings three attitudes necessary to responding appropriately God's laws in our life.
The first element to be considered here is the ability to listen. Moses said in the first reading "and now, O Israel, pay heed to the statutes and ordinances which I teach you". Listening is a fundamental attitude for every Christian to be able to live in conformity with God's laws. God speaks to us through men and women he has set aside for this purpose. He also speaks to us in the innermost part of our being; our heart and our conscience. For God engraves his laws in our hearts. To listen is to be attentive to what God tells us in the depth of our heart; that is not to be indifferent to the different situations knocking on the door of our conscience. The law engraved in our heart is the law of love; love for God and for neighbor. To love is to be able to sacrifice oneself for the good of the person one loves. It is the ability to manifest a particular attention for the person one meets on the way, and/or with the person one lives with. To love is to be Christian.


The second thing to consider is putting into practice that which we listen to. God did not give the laws only to be listened to but also to be practised. God's laws become meaningful only when they take flesh in our daily life. With the aim of becoming better Christians, an examination of conscience may help us to become more aware of the things we are doing right and vice versa.


The third of the three elements mentioned is fidelity to the transmission of the laws received from God. We can say that the will of God is one, undivided and perfect. Everywhere around us today we see different atrocities orchestrated in God's name. Sometimes, we tend to make our will God's will. We also sometimes fall into the trap of misusing the word of God. But Christ tells us again that "whoever relaxes one of the least of the commandments and teaches others to do so shall be called least in the Kingdom of God".


Certainly, every law has to be applied but not legalistically. It is in this sense that we can well understand the pertinence of what Jesus says in the gospel. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the laws and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them." For Jesus' contemporaries, the acts that Jesus offers appear contrary to the precepts (respect for the Sabbath, prohibition to touch lepers, fasting and even stoning of adulterers). However, it is in Jesus that we can attain the fullness of God's will for humanity. To follow Christ and be his witness in this world bring us close to the spirit that animates the laws that govern our societies and the precepts of God. It is to practise love. When we respond to the law of love in our heart through the graces that God gives us, our life becomes orderly and through the little things we do, we are able to bring joy, hope and peace to the people we meet. Lent becomes for us therefore a period where we repent from our lack of showing love through egoistic attitudes in order to respond positively to love of God in our heart by letting it bear good fruits.

 

*Mr. Nana Kofi Agyapong, SJ is a Regent presently teaching at St. Francis Catholic School at Idimu, Lagos State, Nigeria.

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