What Jesus challenges is not at all the Law but the interpretation of that Law and the rigid use of tradition.
Today’s readings are here.
There is a misunderstanding that accompanies much of Jesus’ public life: It’s the idea that he contested the Law, as a kind of heretic who dangerously put the people and tradition at risk. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus explains once and for all his true role: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill.”
What Jesus challenges is not at all the Law that God gave to Moses or the centuries-long tradition which was constitutive of the people of Israel. What he challenges is the interpretation of that Law and the rigid use of tradition.
That’s why we find not abolition but fulfillment in Christ’s teaching. In today’s world we too might fall into the temptation of thinking that a true Christian faith has no need of theology, morals, liturgy, or institutions. The truth is that although all these things can certainly lead to experiences that instead of fostering an encounter with Christ prevent it, the solution is not in their abolition, but in their proper use and fulfillment.
Saying, “‘Yes’ to Christ but ‘no’ to the Church,” means we’ve failed to understand Jesus. Saying, “Love, yes, but without rules,” means we’ve failed to understand love. Saying, “Relationship with God, yes, but without any liturgy,” means confusing a DIY mentality with the truth of things.
We must always be very wary of those who, in order to tell us something new, scrap the old—usually when the truth really is true, it renews our understanding of old in its true light and does not need to throw anything away.