Our First reading today from the Book of Sirach 15:15-20 tells us that "If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live." In today’s gospel reading, Jesus emphasizes the importance of the law by stating that He has come not to abolish the laws but to fulfill them. But while pointing out the importance of Jewish laws and the commandments, Jesus calls our attention to the intrinsic aspects of these laws and commandments that are taken for granted. Pope Francis states "in today’s gospel, Jesus encourages us to move from a formal observance of the Law to a substantial observance, accepting the Law in our hearts. From the heart comes good and bad deeds."

With these words, Pope Francis reminds us that the fulfillment of the law and commandments of God should be centered on Love, because it makes our observance of the law more focused on God’s sacrifice for us and brings us to do the same for others. How are we fulfilling the laws of God and the commandments? Are they just empty practices with no spiritual values in our lives? Are they there just to be practiced without them bring about change and true conversion in us? Are we practicing them just to fulfill all righteousness or just to go through the motions? Does the commandments of God and the laws of the Church mean anything to us spiritually and do they actually impact our lives?

Love as we know is a strong affection for another, an attraction or tenderness for someone or something and an intense feeling of deep affection. From a Christian point is view, Love is the selfless sacrifice of God for our redemption and salvation shown in Christ Jesus. From this definition, we can tell that Love is an act of selflessness. This act of selflessness has been shown us by God in our salvation story and till date in our daily lives. In His explanation of some Jewish laws in the gospel reading today, Jesus reminds us to dig in deeper in our practice of our faith. Showing love to others can sometimes be very painful and difficult. It can seem very overwhelming and impossible. But when done selflessly, it is always fruitful.

My dear brothers and sisters, let us pray for God’s grace, mercy and strength to move from a formal observance of the Law to a substantial observance of the law centered on love and shown in our love for God and neighbor as stated by Pope Francis.