Ministry of Death

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: 2 Cor 3:4-11; PS 99:5, 6, 7, 8, 9; Mt 5:17-19

Note: Please remember St Paul often used powerful rhetorical techniques: diatribes, irony, paradox and insult. The reader must always take this into account as his point is not to anger you but to move a person from a calcified sense of faith and worship. Be sure he is saying truth. He refers to the Decalogue as a Ministry of Death and that is truth. But a truth not for its shock value, St Paul wants us to think anew in light of the marvelous revelation of Jesus the Christ.

First Reading
The ministry of death, carved in letters on stone.

This is how Paul names the Old Covenant Decalogue- the 10 Commandments.
He explains how this can be said elsewhere.

A snapshot version would be to say:

Law reveals Sin and knowing Sin brings Condemnation and Condemnation brings Death.

He also maintains the Decalogue is glorious!
For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious,
the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory.

He binds the two together laws together:
For if what was going to fade was glorious,
how much more will what endures be glorious.

In this reading portion St Paul brings together the old and new, each with its own purpose and together with a unified purpose of the salvation of souls.

Responsorial Psalm
Holy is the Lord our God.

We are amazed how the two covenants are connected in a marvelous holy way.

Alleluia Verse
Teach me your paths, my God,
and guide me in your truth.

Gospel Portion
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.

Jesus introduces his own paradox for us to consider:
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.”

Much has been written on this verse. Great controversies have arisen in fact.

First we must say: Jesus’ own life was a paradox and filled with wonderful real and apparent paradoxes but on further inspection harmony of thought and purpose. The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are those who seek and find the harmony between the old and new testaments.

Origren said it well in his commentary on the psalms in particular PS 1:1-2.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the way of sinners,
nor sit in company with scoffers. Rather, the law of the LORD is his joy; and on his law he meditates day and night.

Paraphrased, Origen said:

With complete and utter precision the Holy Spirit supplied the very words of scripture through his subordinate writers so we may be mindful:

  • bear in mind the weighty circumstance of their writing
  • wisdom of God pervades every divinely inspired writing

Find your harmony.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

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