BY: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe



There is a heart to every law. But here we are dealing with the Law of God. That ‘heart’ of the law is what makes the law human. The law is not all about the letters but about the spirit thereof. Without the heart or the spirit of the law, what remains is the ‘sword’ of justice. This may be the reason why Apostle Paul says that “The Letter kills” (2 Cor 3:6). So, discovering the heart of the law is paramount than knowing the whole provisions of the law to its letters.

Discovering the Heart of The Law

1. The Law is Near You: when we discover that the Law of God is in harmony with our state in life and nature; that the law is not lofty in its demands nor applies to some sorts of higher beings or spirits, we will appreciate it more. If it applies to higher beings it would be unfair to demand our obedience.

2. The Love Drives Law: the Lord says that the new Law will be written on men’s heart (Jer 31:33) because the heart is the seat of love. When the young lawyer demands to know what to do to gain eternal life from Jesus, Jesus asks him to recite the heart of the Law. The lawyer was wise to know the lines that constitute the heart of the law – love of God, and love of neighbor. Any law that doesn’t demand love is not deep enough, and as such can’t lead to eternal life. The lawyer wanting to justify himself on this, seeks clarity on that law.

3. The Law is Clear: the major ambiguity on that clause centers on the word, ‘neighbor’. “Who is my neighbor”, he asks. Then comes the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Traveling through a popular lonely, dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho is a man who is beaten (and probably, stolen from), and left half dead. The Levite (a priestly tribe) and a priest (a class of people that should be seen as merciful, sacrificial and kind) came by, and passed by the other sides. Jesus Christ chose these two groups of persons to heighten the story as regards the higher demands of the law, which is love.

4. There are No Excuses in Law: the priest and the levite may have salient excuses for not attending to the victim. It may be against the laws of ritual purity; “He may not be a Jew”; “I may be late to morning prayer”; “I have got no first aid”, “It may be a set up to get me ambushed”; “He is almost dead, there’s nothing much I can do.” These are probably thoughts on their minds that make them excuse themselves from attending to Love.

5. The Law involves Sacrifice: when the Good Samaritan arrives, his heart speaks to him. He obeys not what the letters of the law demands but what the heart of love would demand. He stoops over, takes out his wine to stop the blood flow; tears his cloth into shreds to use them as bandages for the wound; puts him on his beast, while leading it on foot to an inn; pays an amount that will see the victim through to his return from his journey.

This is simply, in pictorial terms, the whole teaching of the Heart of the Law that can justify one and lead one to eternal life.

Go and do likewise!

Happy Sunday!

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