Philippe de Champagne, Moses Presenting the Tablets of the Law, Milwaukee Art Museum, 1648
Readings for Mass
First Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 31:5-6, 14, 15-16
Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill (NRSV, Mt 5:17).”
Let us pray.
Father, in experiencing his resurrection, the apostles recognized that Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the fulfillment of all things. Nothing has been abolished. Nothing has been wiped away. All has come to completion.
Father, through the Word always present to every human being, you have taught us from the beginning that as we say “yes” to you in faith we share your life, united with you, Father, in the Spirit. Bringing to consciousness what has been revealed to us at the depth of our being, however, has been a gradual process. We are blinded principally by the sin of the world, the sum total of the evil that humanity has done, and by our own selfish desires. We have the common experience of being distracted from our pilgrimage of grace by the sins that we commit.
The first time in memory that the people became aware of you, Father, as God for us, was as you led us out of slavery in Egypt to freedom. Once across the sea, there in the Sinai desert, in a mountain storm, it all became so much clearer than ever before. We realized then that you are really one God, not many; that you are somehow one with us; that you love us and want us to love you and one another. In calling us out of slavery, we sensed that there was a special destiny to which you were summoning us. We pondered on all of this and spoke of it as best we could. Our union with you, Father, we reasoned, had to be something like an agreement, the Law, a covenant made between you and us with provisions like a treaty governing how we were to live one with the other. The destiny had to be a land of our own in which we could live in freedom. But how to deal with sin, with our failure to keep the covenant? Payment had to be made, in the form of gifts, of animal sacrifices, of incense and first fruits offered to appease you.
And so, Lord, we continued on our pilgrimage across the desert and into the land. But things were never right. Somehow there had to be a better understanding.
In Jesus came fulfillment. In his resurrection we realized that we are not united to you, Father, by an agreement, by the Law, but by your Holy Spirit that you pour out upon us through your Word. The destiny is not the land at all but everlasting life with you in the world to come, a life that begins even here on earth. Our union with you then is a union of shared life. And the commandments? They were not given once and for all from Mt. Sinai but they are written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit that we may grow in our understanding of how we are to love you, Father, and one another, as we grow in the very life that you share with us, growth possible at every moment.
Father, thank you for your gift of the Spirit who brings us your life and thank you for the Word, made flesh in our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the Spirit comes and through whom we move towards you.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.