Going beyond but not against
HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - February 17, 2020 - 12:00am

“Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to brother ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna…” (cfr Mt 5, 17-37)

Christ continued to make more clarifications about how we should behave by following some laws. It would be good if we can revisit the whole passage about this point since it can give us a clear picture about how often we need to go beyond but not against what our human laws permit us to do to attain what is truly proper to us as persons and children of God.

We need to see to it that our observance of our human laws is not guided only by our human understanding of these laws or by the many human values that we can aspire and pursue. Our observance of our laws should not be guided by our sense of justice alone.

While these understanding and values and sense of justice are indispensable, unavoidable and legitimate, we need to see to it that it is charity that inspires our observance of our human laws.

In fact, our understanding and the human values and the sense of justice that can motivate us in observing our human laws should come as a consequence of charity. They are not supposed to be the original principle in our observance of our human laws.

Short of that ideal, our observance of our human laws will lead us sooner or later to all forms of anomalies, many of them can be so subtle that we can hardly realize that they are anomalies.

Our human laws should be understood simply as guides and not as the ultimate end itself. And that’s because we can find many exceptions to them because of their inability to capture all the possible situations that man gets into.

That’s the reason why many of them become obsolete, or are even outrightly rescinded, or at least updated, modified, fined-tuned from time to time. Our laws should be made to serve our ultimate end, and that can only be that we be led to God.

It is quite clear that our laws should be made to serve our ultimate end, and that can only be that we be led to God, our original source and ultimate end. Our laws should be such that they should not negate nor even undermine the achievement of this fundamental purpose of the laws. Even our traffic laws, so insignificant if impacted with our ultimate end, should respect this fundamental purpose.

Ideally, both the letter and the spirit of our human laws should be in perfect harmony. But that is hardly the case in real life. The problem, of course, is that the articulation of our laws is conditioned and limited by our human powers that cannot fully capture the richness of human life, considering its spiritual and supernatural character that will always involve the intangibles and mysteries and the like.

That is the reason why we can go beyond but not against a particular law, when such law cannot fully express the concrete conditions of a particular case.

So the proper understanding and application of our law can only be achieved if we discern closely the spirit of God. Tackling our laws only by means of our common sense or our other ways of estimation can open the possibility of missing the real intent of the laws. We really need to go to Christ to know the real spirit behind our human laws!


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