Christ, our Light
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Feast of Justin, Martyr at Rome, c.165
Commemoration of Angela de Merici, Founder of the Institute of St. Ursula, 1540

The attitude of Jesus to the Jewish law was singularly free and unembarrassed. He made full use of it as an impressive statement of high ethical ideals. Even its ritual practices He treated with perfect tolerance where they did not conflict with fundamental moral obligations. From Pharisaic formalism He appealed to the relative simplicity of the venerable written Law. But again from the written Law itself He appealed to the basic rights and duties of humanity: the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; the Law might permit the dissolution of marriage, but there was something more deeply rooted in the nature of things which forbade it; the [law of retaliation], the central principle of legal justice, must go overboard in the interests of the holy impulse to love your neighbor, not merely as yourself, but as God has loved you. Such freehanded dealing meant that the whole notion of morality as a code of rules, with sanctions of reward and punishment, was abandoned. But the average Christian was slow to see this implication. For instance, Jesus had taken fasting out of the class of meritorious acts, and given it a place only as the fitting and spontaneous expression of certain spiritual states. This is what an early authoritative catechism of the Church made of His teaching: “Let not your fast be made with the hypocrites, for they fast on Monday and Thursday; ye therefore shall fast on Wednesday and Friday.” It sounds ludicrous, but we may ask, Was it not on some very similar principle that the Church did actually carry through its reconstruction of “religious observance?” And a Church which so perverted Christ’s treatment of the ritual law proved itself almost equally incapable of understanding His drastic revision of the moral law.
... C. Harold Dodd (1884-1973), The Meaning of Paul for Today, London: Swarthmore, 1920, reprint, Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 68-69 (see the book; see also Matt. 9:14-15; Hos. 6:6; Matt. 5:38-39,43-45; 6:16-18; more at Church, Fasting, Holiness, Jesus, Law, Legalism, Marriage, Morality, Perfection, Pharisaism, Sabbath, Simplicity, Tolerance)

Compilation Copyright, 1996-2023, by Robert McAnally Adams,
        Curator, Christian Quotation of the Day,
        with Robert Douglas, principal contributor
Logo image Copyright 1996 by Shay Barsabe, of “Simple GIFs”, by kind permission.
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Last updated: 05/13/18



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