Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
5:17 the law and the prophets: A shorthand expression for the entire OT. to fulfill them: Jesus completely fulfilled the Mosaic Law and OT prophecies (1:23; 2:6, 15; 4:15–16; Lk 24:44–47). The Greek word translated fulfil means “to make complete”. The New Covenant thus includes and concludes the Old Covenant; it both perfects it and transforms it. While sacrificial laws of the OT expired with the sacrifice of Jesus, the moral Law (Ten Commandments, etc.) was retained and refined (5:21, 27, 43; 19:17). In the Christian life, the power of God’s Spirit is necessary if we are to obey the Law and grow in holiness (cf. Rom 8:4; CCC 577–81, 1967).
5:18 an iota: Corresponds to the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet (yod). a dot: Tiny extensions that distinguish similar-looking Hebrew letters from one another.
5:19 Probably these commandments means those of the Mosaic law. But this is an interim ethic “until heaven and earth pass away.”
Friends, our Gospel for today is taken from the beginning section of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has symbolically established himself as the new Moses, giving a law upon a mountain. His “you have heard it said, but I say…” has revealed that he has authority even over the Torah.
He is not speaking as an anti-Moses, but as a new Moses. Jesus is not undermining the law; he is raising it to a new pitch. This is why he says, “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law.”
The law was always meant to bring humanity into line with divinity. In the beginning, this alignment was at a fairly basic level. But now that the definitive Moses has appeared, the alignment is becoming absolute, radical, complete.
– Bishop Robert Barron
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.