Charity fulfillment of the law
Yes, that’s what St. Paul said in his Letter to the Romans. And if we believe that St. Paul was an apostle, a special vessel Christ chose to preach to the Gentiles, then his words ought to be believed. The complete passage is as follows:
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (13,8-10)
With these words, we are made to understand that it is love or charity that summarizes and fulfills all the laws there are—those that come directly from God and those that are man-made which are supposed to reflect God’s laws.
We just have to understand what this love or charity is, because we can also have all kinds of charity that may not exactly be the charity as it should be. We all know that we are notorious in doing this. Thus, we should first find where we can have the true essence of charity.
We know that charity is the very essence of God. St. John, in his first letter, said it clearly. “God is love.” (4,8) And that charity was lived and continues to be lived, shown and taught to us by Christ, who is the fullness of the revelation of God to us.
Christ himself summarized and perfected all the divine commandments given to us by revealing to us a new commandment—that we love one another as he himself has loved us. (cfr. Jn 13,34) The question to ask is: How has Christ loved us and continues to do so?
We know that Christ is the Son of God who became man to save us. He went all the way to assume everything human, except sin, though he was made like sin, just to adapt himself to us for the sake of our salvation. (cfr. 2 Cor 5,21)
He, of course, preached about what is good and evil, what is right and wrong. But given man’s condition as a free being like God himself, he did not force us to believe him. If we believe him, it is because we want to. It should be a free act.
But given man’s wounded condition and proneness to sin, Christ was and continues to be most understanding, compassionate, patient and merciful to all of us, especially those who have fallen away. This fact was dramatized in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. (cfr. Lk 15)
And finally, in spite of all that he taught and did, performing a lot of miracles if only to elicit from us the faith in God, he consummated everything by offering his life on the cross, thereby bearing all the sins of men and offering forgiveness and salvation to everyone, yes, including those who crucified him.
This is the charity that we are supposed to live among ourselves. This is the charity that proves that we truly love God. Yes, it tells us to be always on the right as much as possible, to do all the good that we can, and to encourage everyone to do the same, even with some forcefulness.
But again, given the way we are, with all our weaknesses, limitations and sins, we cannot insist too much on what is right and wrong. We just have to be like Christ who showed us how to truly love. And that is to be understanding, patient, merciful, willing to bear the sins of the others, etc.!
It’s up to the others to correspond or not. That was the attitude of Christ. That should also be our attitude. That is what truly fulfills the law!*
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