Lent Week 3: Wednesday

Lent Week 3: Wednesday

 Today’s readings: Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9; Psalm 147: Matthew 5:17-19

Our Lenten penances can be a great source of spiritual strength to us, allowing us to deepen our relationship with Christ and enter further into the Paschal Mystery. We can allow our daily penitential observances to help us in ‘transcending the good life’ as Herbert McCabe once wrote. On the other hand, we can become a little too obsessed with the externals of observance and forget why we are performing such actions; indeed, the actions themselves can become a source of anxiety and fear and so be rendered meaningless.

Christ shows us in today’s Gospel passage how we are to use Him as a corrective; how we are to take His word as the very source of all we do and so allow it to make sense of our external actions and observances. Often portrayed as a dangerous rebel, we see Christ emphasise that he has not come, ‘to abolish the law or prophets’ but ‘to fulfil’ them. This is a very important notion, if sacred scripture is to have any meaning for us as the revealed word of God. Christ in His very person makes the essential purpose of the law clear, and reveals to us that we must embrace and obey the full spiritual meaning of it, in Him. He brings with Him the New Covenant which completes, fulfils and satisfies the law. As Paul states in Romans 10:4; “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes”.

Much like the Pharisees we have to be reminded why we perform such actions and make such observances. We should not follow them simply for the sake of it, rather Christ expects us to make such observances in full by seeking to understand their meaning as revealed in Him. These actions do not hold of their own accord but only have full meaning when we allow them to deepen our relationship with Christ and enter more fully into His saving mystery.

Graham Hunt OP