Reflections for the Week of Sunday August 5, 2018 Eleventh after Pentecost

Gospel: John 6.24-35 after the feeding of the five thousand, the people found Jesus on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They ate the food Jesus provided but they really needed Jesus Himself, to believe in Him, who is the Bread from Heaven sent by God to provide the spiritual nourishment for His people.

Jesus says He is the Bread from Heaven and Jn 6.29 says that the ‘work’ we must do to be saved is to believe in Him. At the Last Supper Jesus took bread, blessed it, and broke it  and gave it to the disciples and said,”Take, eat; this is My body.” And He gave them wine and said, “…this is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mt 26.26,27). There are many things one could say about these  verses but I would like to reflect on the difference between the Mosaic Law (Torah) and Christ as the end (goal) of the law (Jn 10.4). Gal 3.23ff. speaks of how Israel was kept under the Torah as a child is kept under the guardianship of a tutor. These verses are analogous to Rm 7 which is also about Torah. The law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai (Ex 19-24) to stipulate the conduct God expected of His people, and also to set them apart from the surrounding pagan nations. So the law acted as a hedge around Israel to keep them separate from the pagan, polytheistic peoples surrounding them. This was the effect of circumcision, the dietary laws, and the purity laws. St. Paul says the law became a curse for the people of Israel (Gal 3.10ff.) because they could not keep it perfectly and it killed them (Gal 2.19; Rm 7.5-11). But the Torah was only a temporary measure until Christ came (Gal 3.23-25). The Torah played another role also, which was to define sin, as God’s command to Eve not to eat of the fruit defined that transgression as sin. But Gal 4.1-7 and Rm 8 say that when Christ came into the world and into believers’ lives in faith, they are no longer under the law which condemns us (Rm 8.1). When we turn to Christ in repentance and faith, we are no longer under the law of sin and death (Rm 8.2) which defines sin and condemns those who cannot keep it perfectly. Believers are ‘in Christ’, and ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ (Rm 8.2), which is to love God and one’s neighbor (Rm 13.8-10), is  the ‘law of Christ’ (Gal 6.2). Being ‘in Christ’ means believers are adopted members of God’s covenant family (Rm 8.15; Gal 4.6) in which there is no condemnation, but rather love, mercy, and forgiveness. Being ‘in Christ’ is a new status in which we are no longer under the dominion of sin (Rm 6.10) and Torah (Rm 6.14) but are justified (declared to be in the right) by God through faith in Christ. This new status means we are no longer judged by behavior but by being God’s family.

Memory Verse: For I am persuaded that neither death not life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come, not height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rm 8.38,39).  

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