We have a moral obligation to seek to implement the Law of God with love and not just a simple literalist spirit. We need to ask ourselves the question, “What is the intention of God in giving us this particular law?” Jesus challenges the synagogue official to look carefully at what he is saying and to be reasonable in his application of the law. The officials tended to be very understanding in the application of the law to personal situations but absolutely legalistic, and according to Jesus, totally unreasonable when applying it to others. It seems that those who were least able to argue for and defend themselves were the ones most likely to be victims of their legalism.

There is no room for us to be complacent in this regard as each of us will find ourselves in similar situations many times during our lives, both on the giving and receiving end! We do well to remember the beatitude that tells us that mercy will be shown to the person willing to be merciful to others!

Sometimes there are laws that are absolute, such as the call to respect the dignity of human life at all times. However, even these need to be implemented with love, explaining to the individuals concerned how and why the principle applies to their particular situation. This can be quite a difficult task and a long road of understanding for some but the demands of the Gospel of love are that we be willing to walk with one another during such difficult times.

Let us take our lead from Jesus and seek to apply all laws with love and compassion. If it is necessary to punish an individual for what they have done then such a punishment should always be applied with the view to the conversion and rehabilitation of the person. If it is for purely punitive reasons, then we have moved outside the boundary of the call to love. This is what we call revenge! God does not punish us for our sins – he forgives us. The consequences of our sins may be viewed by some as punishment, but this is not the case. They are merely that which follows from actions outside the laws of God. They ought to give us cause to reflect upon our actions so that we will be inspired not to sin in the future.

How do I view the call to apply the law in love to others? Do I tend to seek punitive revenge ion those who sin against me?

Lord Jesus, you have taught us the way of love and it is a way of forgiveness and compassion and understanding. Help me to grow in these three virtues.