A Deeper Law
(Ss. Perpetua & Felicity)
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9; Matthew 5:17-19
Today we hear about the importance of the law.
For our Jewish ancestors, obedience to God’s law was the key to their salvation. If they obeyed that law, all would go well with them. They would be free. They would live on the land that God had given them. They would not fear hunger, thirst or violence. But if they forgot God’s law, they would suffer.
Some religious leaders said that Jesus did not respect the laws of his ancestors. But in today’s gospel he tells them, “On the contrary, I came to fulfill the law and the prophets.” Jesus fulfilled them by following his Father’s will. His enemies forgot that the purpose of the law was to help the people to know and follow God’s will. The prophets likewise called their people to listen to God.
Perpetua and Felicity were two women who followed God’s will. They were imprisoned when they were still catechumens and baptized in prison days before their deaths. Perpetua was a young mother, and Felicity gave birth only days before she was executed.
When Perpetua’s father, a pagan, heard that she was to become a Christian, he went crazy. He tried to dissuade her. In response, Perpetua pointed to a jar of water and asked her father, “Father, what is that?”
Her father responded, “A jar of water.”
She asked, “Can it be something other than what it is?”
“Of course not,” he said.
Perpetua told him, “It is the same with me. I am a Christian. I cannot be anything else.”
Like Jesus, Perpetua and Felicity, followed God’s voice and did God’s will to the end. May we do the same.—JC