Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. It would be harder for Jesus to be more crystal clear to us this morning. In one sentence he makes two key points for Christian life. The first is that the Law and the Prophets, that is the Old Testament, is not in any way opposed to the New Testament. If we want the mercy of Jesus then we also want the Old Testament, because that’s all the Old Testament is: the action of Jesus before the incarnation.
The other point is that be merciful like Jesus does not mean opposing law. To love means to be bound by law. As Jesus says in todays gospel not one dot, not one little stroke, will disappear from the law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these Commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven. This is because Jesus is the law: he is the measure of all things. And so anything is only good in the measure it conforms to him. This is why the commandments remain and will always be the basic conditions of love. It is also why disregarding Church law can be an act of uncharity. Canon law exists to remind us, in the 21st century, of our duty of love and respect to each other, in particular situations whatever our place within or without the Church. This is why, along with prayer, the Word of God and the sacraments, it is always our first port of call in pastoral work and caring for each other.