If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Cor 5, 17)
Jesus, with his announcement of the kingdom and his lifestyle, represents conversion and newness. But radical change implies return to the unchanging beginning that rejuvenates, if kept.
Jesus returns to the law and the prophets, declaring them indispensable, wise and salutary. He is the new promulgator of laws as well as the prophesied seducer of the Israelites who, in the desert, talks to their hearts, so that they may respond as in the days of their youth (Hos 2, 16-17).
Our Master reminds us of tradition so that, united to him, we may keep it alive, deeply internalized, and observed radically—as did St. Vincent de Paul, who, converted to the primordial Word and living it, was renewed.
Perfect fulfillment means not disregarding even the least precept. Jesus does not agree with cafeteria Catholics. He does not want us either to say yes and no at the same time, in the manner of some U.S. presidents who use signing statements to express their reservations to certain provisions of the bill they are signing into law at that very moment. Nor does he approve of very valuable donations from the big shots who contribute to the Church all the while continuing to abuse the little folks.
Jesus also warns that not every keeping of the commandments down to a T passes for righteousness. They are not few, those who are so self-righteous in their irreproachable observance that they put on airs of divinity. They deem themselves to be the infallible measure of all morality and at the center of everything. They remain shut up within structures which give them a false sense of security, within rules which make them harsh judges, within habits which make them feel safe, while at their doors are people who are hungering and thirsting for justice, mercy and acceptance (cf EG 49).
No, one cannot ignore the needy. Love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13, 10). Given besides the hierarchy of truths and virtues, one has to concentrate on the essentials (EG 35-37): justice, mercy, reconciliation. Locked up in our own interests, in the culture and a theology of prosperity (EG 54, 90), we do not hear the cry of the poor and soon we exchange the merciful God for another, a spitting image of us who are irascible and vindictive, always insisting that those who do not work should not eat, without bothering finding out the reason for their unemployment and not knowing anything about the employed who go hungry simply because, with the little that they are paid, they cannot make ends meet.
The remedy to indifference is to go to the outskirts. The Eucharist, the intimate and effective remembrance of Jesus’ love to the utmost—never seen or heard of before—compels us to be in a renewing solidarity with the poor.
Ross Reyes Dizon
Tags: A Vincentian reading of the Sunday readings, Return and renewal, Ross Dizon