The gospels were written for a purpose. The gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (whether they were the real authors or names used by some others writing under their influence), put to writing the prevailing accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, in order to convey a message to the believing community. It was for this reason too, that the so-called apocryphal gospel or gnostic gospels, written much later, were judged by Christians as unreliable in proclaiming the faith – they failed in transmitting the true message of Christ.

Matthew whose gospel we read every Sunday this year, had a clear goal as a writer. He wanted to present Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles, as the new lawgiver, higher than Moses, and with authority coming from on high. Jesus is the Lawgiver of the New Covenant.

Today’s gospel (Mt 5) shows us how Jesus, without revoking the law given to their ancestors, interprets in a new way, the Law. In the process, he refines it, amplifies it, and deepens it, according to his own wisdom and authority. “It was said to your ancestors” – that’s the old law.  “But I say to you” – this is the new law of Christ.

The law was given to Moses on the mountain by God. This is in fact, not the law of Moses, but truly the law of God, and Moses was only the instrument to promulgate it. Moses therefore never spoke as Jesus did, nor did anyone in Israel before say “I say to you…,” for to do so would be to claim an authority beyond your power, to claim divine mandate. But how confidently and effortlessly Jesus does just that. Because he is God’s Son, one with his Father, Jesus can give the law a new face. And where once, the law was understood as imposing, rigid, or harsh, Jesus wants us to see the loving, caring, and sincere side of God’s holy will.

This week let us take time to listen to Jesus as he invites us to appreciate his law. Let us also ask him to give us the grace to follow the love of love by putting it in practice in the situations we find ourselves in.