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Sunday, February 13, 2011



Thus we are not being asked to do the impossible, as the first reading explicitly says: "If you choose, you can keep the commandments;" "to do God's will" is nothing more than "loyalty", that is, our effort to respond in gratitude to what he offers. "The command which I enjoin on you today does not exceed your capabilities, it is not unreachable, ... for my word is very near to you, it is in your heart" (Dt 30:11, 14).

This has profound implications, does it not? When Jesus gave us the two commandments to love God and love neighbor he said it was a summation of the law and the prophets, and that is what Balthasar is saying here.

Perhaps it is the remnants of my Evangelical upbringing with an influence of Calvin, but it has been my own tendency to see the "perfection", that Jesus speaks of, as unattainable other than through grace, at least for the vast majority of us.

And indeed, Balthasar pulls it together in the last paragraph here;

Whoever follows God finds him and attains his Kingdom; whoever merely seeks his perfection in the law, loses him—forever, if he persists at it.

That is the part that the Protestant in particular will lean on, and will make the same point as Balthasar does here;

But the Holy Spirit, "who scrutinizes the depths of God" has revealed this to us, including the depths of the grace that he offers us in his covenant-law: to become "like him" in his love and selflessness.

But I think the key to the difference and the way to understand Jesus when he says that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets, not to abolish them, is to realize that Jesus incarnation, passion, death and resurrection are not plan B.

I have heard that way of separating the Old and New Covenants such that even though God knew that the law of Moses would not be enough, he tried it first as Plan A and when it didn't work he sent Jesus as Plan B.

It is only if you see it in that light that you can make that radical separation between the law and grace, forgetting that faith was required in the cases of Abraham, of Moses, of Joseph in Egypt, of David and so on.

But understanding the Old into the New as all one piece and Jesus the fulfillment, brings the grace of the Old into the forefront in the New, but without doing away with any one jot of the moral law.

To the extent that any of our separated brethren tend toward antinomianism, whether they embrace it fully or not, they miss the import of these words of Jesus in today's gospel.

Sorry for the ramble Carl, but these issues have always been the hardest for me to wrap my head around. (Perhaps because of the hardness of my head!) Sometimes when I think I have a complete grasp on it, it slips through my mental fingers a little.


In Protestant Traditions some of which have reprinted New Testament 'only' versions of their bible you can see how very far they have veered off course
The proper terminology to describe it is dispensationalism
Without going to the far end of the spectrum of this theology you can see how elements of it have crept into Orthodox Christian exegesis.
Their eschatology is then forced to create all sorts of pre and post premillenialism concepts

Fulfilled and replaced are two very different terms and very different understandings - One must understand that a moral only pass through of the law from the OT is not a proper understanding of fulfillment. The laws of hair and blood (as well as some of the extremes) were obviously no longer required and fulfilled in the paschal sacrifice of the blood of the Lamb The new covenant has many laws in it that are very valid. One could go into a discourse of them separately but a short example is eating meat on Fridays. That is not something we should be doing We are set aside. There are many other examples that transcend the Old into the New.

I truly wish more people at higher academic levels would have a better orthodox understanding of what became and now "is" the new covenant.

"Greater is he that lives in you than he that liveth in the world."
Praise be Jesu Christo

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