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Our laws and God’s laws

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.” (Mt 5,17) With these words of Christ, we are reminded that our human laws should channel and reflect the laws of God who, after all, is the creator of all things and the source of law and order in the whole of creation.

And these laws of God are embodied, revealed and commanded of us by Christ, the son of God who became man to redeem us and the very pattern of our humanity. As the gospel passage cited above puts it clearly, Christ is the fulfillment of the laws given to us.

We have to disabuse ourselves from the thought that our laws can be based only on our common sense, or on our own estimation of what is good and evil according to the values of practicality, convenience, etc., or on our traditions and culture, etc.

While these things have their legitimate role to play in our legal and judicial systems, we have to understand that they cannot be the primary and ultimate bases. It should be God, his laws and ways that should animate the way we make laws as well as the way we apply and live them. After all, being the Creator of all things, he is the one who establishes what is truly good and evil, what is right and wrong, what is fair and unfair.

In this regard, we have to learn to distinguish and properly blend both the letter and spirit of our human laws. That’s the ideal. In our earthly reality, of course, the letter of the law will always be found wanting in terms of capturing the whole spirit of the law.

This discrepancy between the letter and the spirit of the law has been referred to a number of times in the gospel. One example is when Christ told the Jews: “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” (Mk 7,9)

Another example was when Christ told the Pharisees and the lawyers of that time: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” (Lk 14,3)

That’s why any human law should always be a dynamic one, always in the process of refining, polishing and enriching itself. It should never be considered as static, or irreformable, unenrichable.

A lot of discernment is needed here. Prudence requires it. And the common good, which the law should always serve, can often present competing interests that need to be resolved as fairly as possible.

That’s simply because charity, truth, justice and mercy, which our laws should embody, have aspects that can be mysterious and that will always demand new requirements from us.

Let’s hope that the proper structures are made available to address this ongoing need with respect to continually polishing our laws. This is part of the political life of any nation. Let’s hope that a continuing study and research be made in this regard. Our law schools and other legal centers could be tapped for this purpose.

Let’s hope that our lawmakers are truly dedicated and focused on their work rather than wasting our time and resources by simply doing political maneuverings at the behest of their self-interest. And worse, we are actually witnessing these days in many countries laws being made that are openly against God’s laws!*

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December 2022
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