by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
It may be a little bit confusing to us at first that Jesus tells us that he has come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. So it may be helpful for us to remind ourselves that Matthew’s Gospel was written for a community of Jewish Christians — people who were Jews but had also become followers of Jesus.
In this Gospel, Matthew, using the words of Jesus, is reassuring these Jewish Christians that God hasn’t abolished the Jewish law and that Jesus hasn’t come to take that law away. The 613 laws of the Torah, which includes the Ten Commandments that we all still continue to learn, Jesus says, “These still are God’s law, but if you’re going to follow me, then there’s another whole set of values that go beyond those 613 laws of the Old Testament.”
I think in a way, this becomes very clear in an incident that is recorded later in Matthew’s Gospel, where Matthew tells about a young man who comes up to Jesus and says, “Lord, what must I do to gain eternal life?”…