How do we make good choices? God’s wisdom shows us that the Law must change our hearts and not just set the rules.
Here we have the mystery of human freedom – to choose fire or water, good or evil, life or death, faithfulness and fear of the Lord or unfaithfulness and self-reliance. Here is the pathway set against the demanding intuition that God is beyond human wisdom or sight. Yet it is within human capability to ‘behave faithfully.’ Humankind is free, capable of free communion with God – since God invites rather than coerces and his approach is defined by the power to choose him without force but out of love. Paradoxically, we can choose to reject him; we can choose harm and death as a result of turning away from God.
Paul is riveted by his insight into that depth of the same hidden wisdom of God spoken of by the author of Ecclesiastes. He takes it further, enabled to do so because of his knowledge of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. He teaches about that wisdom which God ‘pre-destined to be for our glory before the ages began.’ God’s wisdom is for a reason – the glory of humankind. To the relationship, God brings a wisdom, beyond the mind of man. The key to unveil this wisdom is love and the key can only be turned by the Spirit of God unlocking our hearts. This alone reveals the depth of everything, even the depths of God.
It is Jesus’ innermost desire to reveal the beauty and the grace between his Father and the whole of humanity. God’s gift of creation and of his son have a purpose: divine-human kinship (the Kingdom). But Jesus then goes into the details of the law to make its purpose and true virtue clear. God seeks the spirit of humankind not just the appearances. Hence acts and thoughts (murder and murderous thoughts; lawsuits and conciliation; adultery and lustful thoughts; divorce) contribute or detract from the relationship. The foundation of the law leads into the heart of humanity rather than just to the processes of its enactment. This is the real fulfilment of the Law that Jesus seeks. This is the demanding dialogue of the heart. In the end, it confronts evil and humanity cannot hide in the twists and turns of any system of lawno matter how cleverly devised. Jesus spells out the real meaning of the old law. Superficiality – mouthing oaths, outward conformity to rules and regulations, skin deep ‘holiness’ must give way to the whole-hearted commitment of humanity to goodness and real virtue. This is expressed in alarmingly graphic ways as Jesus says it’s better to tear an eye out or cut off a right hand than suffer the loss of the whole body to sin and exclusion from God.