9th June 2021
RAISE THE BAR
2 Corinthians 3:4‐11
Psalms 99:5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Today we hear about the relationship between the two covenants (testaments). St. Paul, a former Pharisees who had been deeply dedicated to the Law and the importance of the covenant made with Moses, is now able to see the limitations of the Mosaic Law. The Law, although glorious and important in its time, restricted the people and led to death. The New Law (Covenant) of the Holy Spirit is liberating and leads to life – eternal life. How more glorious is the New Law that has come from the Master‐Teacher and His sending of the Holy Spirit into the lives of the people of the New Covenant!
In the Gospel, Jesus announces that He has not come to destroy the Old Covenant and the Word of God as proclaimed by the patriarchs and prophets. Rather, He has come to bring all that was promised to fulfillment. Jesus condemns those who do not uphold the Good News which began in the Hebrew Scriptures. He also praises those who teach and share the Word of God with others. Yet with His coming, and particularly with His death and Resurrection, He has fulfilled the Old and can bring about the New Covenant (relationship) with God.
We who are followers of Jesus are blessed by the fact that we have been formed by the Old Covenant (Testament) in which we received the Ten Commandments and proclamation of the Word of God which has prepared us for God’s continuing relationship. We are even more blessed as we have been called to be part of the New Covenant established by the ministry, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We can never ignore the Old Covenant‐Testament. It has prepared us for the coming of the Lord Jesus. We, however, are now formed into the community which is marked by the Holy Spirit and must live by the more glorious New Covenant.
In some ways the Old Covenant, although numerous in its precepts, made it easy to know if and when one was in compliance with the Law. Yet, as Paul pointed out, keeping all the laws still only led to self‐righteousness and eventually to death. It is only with the coming of Jesus and His ministry, life, death, and resurrection, that we are assured of righteousness and life, not because of any law we keep or avoid breaking, but because we have been given a righteousness, a glorious righteousness, because of what He did. With the continued outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we are raised to a higher level where we are called to live as people who have been saved and made righteous. This is harder in some ways. We do not always have the surety of laws. We must sometimes make decision which are not covered by the Old Law. We must reach out to others with the Law of Love, because we have been loved into that higher and more glorious level.
God does call us to teach others, as Jesus mentions in the Gospel. I have always enjoyed using words to proclaim the Good News. Yet more importantly, and often more difficultly, we are called to proclaim the Good News in our actions, by our caring, without the structure of words, guidelines, and institution. That is when we must realize that we are doing, as St. Paul says, the ministry of the Spirit. This is what gives life, life to those to whom we are ministering (even if they are at the point of “transitioning” from this life to the next), and life to ourselves.
When we do this, the glory of God is praised, and we are lifted up in the experience of being in God’s presence where we can join the psalmist today and say: “Extol the Lord, our God, and worship at God’s footstool; Holy is the Lord!”