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Jesus Fulfilling the Law
Sunday, August 21 2011

The Law and Christ...

Through Christ, we have the hope of salvation:

"Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus."  -Galatians 3:23-26, NAB

By Old Testament standards, we are all sinners, and not one of us deserves a spot in heaven.  The Old Covenant with the Jews was a seemingly impossible task, and it set the Jews up for failure.  Without God's grace and mercy, there is no way that any of us could live up to those standards.  As hard as we may try, we will fall short of God's expectations.

As Christians, we sometimes take for granted the mercy we receive in Christ Jesus through the forgiveness that He brought to us.  Imagine being a Jew from before the time of Jesus.  They lived under God's law, and I am sure that they struggled with sin just as we do today.  How then could they hope to be saved?

Through the Old Testament Law, Jews had a set of rules to follow, hoping to find their way to salvation.  Before the Jewish Temple was destroyed in the first century, the Jewish people, under the Law of Moses, atoned for their sins through offerings.  As part of the New Covenant, Christ has become the offering for us, choosing to give His life so that our sins can be forgiven.

When Christ came, He gave us a new path to salvation, and we can now find a path to salvation despite our failings in following the Law.  By no means, however, does that mean that we should not follow the Law.  Many believe that Christ's forgiveness is a one-time event in our lives, but it is not.  Forgiveness is something that we must continually seek.  Part of this is through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, along with our repentance and turning back to the Law.

To show evidence of Christ's true mission, we can look at Christ's own words in the Gospel of Matthew:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." -Matthew 5:17

A major division between Protestant and Catholic beliefs surrounds this issue.  As a former Protestant, I once believed that accepting Christ meant accepting salvation, a one-time event.  Now, as a Catholic, I truly believe that salvation is something that I hope for, and it is something I must always strive for.  Christ came to save us, but He did not abolish the Law; He fulfilled it.  In that way, we must strive to live by the laws and commandments of our Lord in the hope that one day He will welcome us with open arms.

Despite our best efforts, however, we can never earn our way to heaven.  In that respect, it is only through faith that we will find salvation.  First, our faith manifests itself in the way that we attempt to follow God's commandments.  Second, we accept and acknowledge that we fall short of God's commandments, and we seek His mercy on our lives.  Finally, by accepting His grace and mercy, we are given the hope of an eternal life with Him in heaven.  May God share His grace and mercy with you!

 

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