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Jesus in the Temple Little by Josef

July 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Moses, the greatest prophet of the Old Testament and a type of Christ the supreme Lawgiver, delivered one overarching message to the people of Israel:

Lay to heart all the words which I enjoin upon you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no trifle for you, but it is your life, and thereby you shall live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to possess. (Dt 32:46–47)

When Our Lord dwelt among us on the earth, He solemnly stated: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Mt 5:17). For this reason He says: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17), and “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). 

The beloved disciple St. John writes in his first epistle: “By this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments. He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn 2:3–4). And again: “For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy” (1 Jn 5:3). 

Of St. Paul the Apostle, we read: “He went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches, commanding them to keep the precepts of the apostles and the ancients” (Acts 15:41).

The New Testament did not abolish the Old Testament or the teaching of Moses. Far from lessening the moral standards, the New Testament removes some of the exceptions and concessions that were made to the weakness of fallen men, because we are now in the era of Christ, who has won for us the grace we need to be holy and shares it with us in His seven sacraments and in the Holy Spirit poured forth upon us. Christ brought the old Law to its absolute perfection in His holocaust of love on the Cross, the reality of which is made present to us in the Holy Eucharist. 

The parts of the Law that merely prepared Israel for the Messiah’s coming came to an end in Christ, but the moral code of the Law was incorporated into the Gospel and raised to an even higher level. Thus, the emphasis on Law in the Old Testament – as in the great Psalm 118/119 – is not superseded by a supposed “freedom from law” in the New Testament. Divine revelation remains constant and consistent with itself, as does the moral law discernible to natural reason with God’s help. 

What changes, rather, is man’s ability to adhere to it, to remain faithful to it. Christ in His gift of sanctifying grace, in the gift of His sacraments and the power of His Holy Spirit, makes possible for us the living of the Law. With the finger of the Holy Spirit, the Father writes the Law not on tablets of stone but on the fleshy tablets of the heart (cf. 2 Cor 3:3). 

This is why John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor says that we must ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we must use all the means Our Lord has given us, if we are to conquer our sins and grow in holiness. It will never be easy, but it is now possible and desirable, and the saints show us it can be done.

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Peter Kwasniewski, Thomistic theologian, liturgical scholar, and choral composer, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California (B.A. Liberal Arts) and The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy). He taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austria Program, then helped establish Wyoming Catholic College in 2006. There he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history and directed the choirs until leaving in 2018 to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing.

Today he contributes regularly to many websites and publications, including New Liturgical Movement, OnePeterFive, LifeSiteNews, Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, and Catholic Family News, and has published thirteen books, including four on traditional Catholicism: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014, also available in Czech, Polish, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Belarusian), Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017), Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018), and Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass (Angelico, 2020). His work has been translated into at least eighteen languages.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over a thousand articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church.

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, visit his personal website,