The spirit of the Law


Friday, Nov 3, 2017
30th Week in
Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Rom 9:1-5
Gospel: Lk 14:1-6
One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and he was carefully watched. In front of him was a man suffering from dropsy; so Jesus asked the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But no one answered. Jesus then took the man, healed him and sent him away. And he addressed them, “If your lamb or your ox falls into a well on a Sabbath day, who among you doesn’t hurry to pull it out?” And they could not ans wer.
(Daily Gospel in
the Assimilated Life
The strongest prison bars are the letters of the law. When the law is interpreted literally without regard for the welfare of the human person, the law becomes the hottest crucible of fire that tortures a person to slow death. For Jesus, our interpretation of the law should lean towards the ultimate good of humanity. Jesus did not hesitate to disregard interpretations of the law that were disadvantageous to the welfare of people. In today’s Gospel, for example, he did not allow the Pharisees’ narrow interpretation of the Sabbath Law to deprive a man suffering from dropsy of that rare healing encounter with him. Jesus cured him over and above the objection of the Pharisees who cried foul because Jesus was performing that miracle on a Sabbath. Under the strict Sabbath Law any mode of work was prohibited.
Every time I come to this topic on the law and human welfare I remember an experience I had long time ago with a traffic enforcer while I was on my way to the hospital to minister to the sick. Because the hospital’s parking lot was fully occupied I pulled over to call from my mobile phone the relatives of the sick to inform them about my parking problem. Suddenly a traffic officer apprehended me for pulling over at a ‘no stopping’ zone. “Someone is dying in that hospital and I have nowhere to park,” I explained. The traffic enforcer must have taken me for a doctor because I was wearing white. He said, “It’s okey, Doctor, you can park here. I can even keep an eye on your car”.
The way he interpreted the law, doctors are exempt from street parking regulations because they save lives, and matters of life are higher than any law. Any law that jeopardizes life is oppressive and should not find support. The life we sacrifice because of our penchant for the details of the law may be our very own life.
We may not be in a position to interpret the law for others but we must understand that the letter of the law could kill. It is the spirit of the law that gives life. – (Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., D.M., Email:dan.delosangeles@gmail.com.
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