The Spirit & the Law

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“Since the Law has no more than a reflection of these realities, and no finished picture of them, it is quite incapable of bringing the worshipers to perfection, with the same sacrifices repeatedly offered year after year…”

Heb 10:1

Growing up, rules at home were meant to help us develop certain habits and virtues that eventually help us to lead virtuous lives so naturally that we no longer need to be reminded of those ‘rules’.

When learning driving, traffic laws are meant to be studied and applied so that we can eventually drive safely on the roads, without having to keep recalling those laws in our minds.

In liturgy and in Church, rubrics and laws are meant to guide us in internalizing the spirit and essence of those laws, so that we may eventually live out the spirit of those laws in our daily lives, outside of the liturgy.

The danger comes when we cling on so tightly to the laws of liturgy and the Church by the letter, and rely on the strict adherence of them as a determination of our holiness and ‘perfection’.

“‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’”

Mk 3:33-34

Yet Jesus came into the world breaking the ‘laws of the Pharisees’. He came to challenge the judicious conformity to the letter of the laws and teach us to live according to the spirit of the laws. He also broke the traditional ‘law’ of family relations, and proposed a more complete interpretation of what it means to be family.

Ultimately, the greatest law we are called to obey and follow is simply to love God and neighbor, according to the will of the Father. Yet we can be following the letter of the laws, yet fail to obey God in loving our neighbor, or worse, offending others by our words and actions.

Let us simply allow the laws to guide us like the rules of music or the dividers on the road, but never forget that the true way to perfection is through the actual creation of music, the driving safely on the roads, and the practicing of love through our words and deeds without having to refer to the ‘laws’ on paper, but simply live them out from the heart.


Originally posted on Instagram.

Nicholas Lye

Nicholas Lye

Nicholas Lye is a Singaporean currently on a year's sabbatical from the seminary, discerning his path in life and striving to facilitate encounters with God in the workplace and ordinary life.

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1 thought on “The Spirit & the Law”

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    In Christianity, law is not a preparation for holiness. Christ’s presence within us is our holiness. We get Him within us by faith and humility. 1Peter 5:5-7 describes the process well. It says: “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you”. This opens us up to grace.

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