the forgotten law



Today at Catholic Mass, a very important part is read, a part of the Jesus comandments that many Christians forget. It is Matthew 5,17-37 (in Italian)

I have heard in Church, people talking loudly about others being this and that. Jesus said reconcile first and then come to Church. As I understand it, Jesus said we must not be hypocrites.

Jesus “went up onto the mountain” ( Matthew 5:1) and asked us in other words to control our own passions, desires and instincts, our intollerans and  instinct of revenge.

The priest at my church nor at mass in television from Bari, did talk about the law in more depth. There are in fact about 600 laws in the Pentateuch. I am not able to talk about them all in this post. So I will concentrate myself on the 10 commandments and three laws, Jesus talked about during his lifetime, those about “Eye to eye”, Sabbath and adultery.



The text

Matthew 5,17-37   says:

About the law of the prophets

05:17 “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets.
 I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. For most certainly,
I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away,
  not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke
  shall in any way pass away from the law, until
  all things are accomplished. Whoever, therefore,
 shall break one of these least commandments,
 and teach others to do so, shall be called least
 in the Kingdom of Heaven;
 but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called
 great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
 For I tell you 
that unless your righteousness exceeds
that of the scribes and Pharisees,  there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

About offending your next

05:21 “You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones,
 ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘Whoever shall murder shall be in anger of the judgment.’  But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause  shall be in danger of the judgment; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca!’ (ed. probably from Aramaic Reka “empty headed” or “foolish”) shall be in danger of the council;  and whoever shall say, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna. 

About reconciling

05:23 “If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar,  and there remember that your brother has anything against you,  leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.  Most certainly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there,   until you have paid the last penny.

about adultery in the hearth

05:27  “You have heard that it was said,‘You shall not commit adultery;’  but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her  has committed adultery with her already in his heart.

5:29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and  throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that  one of your members should perish, than for your whole body  to be cast into Gehenna.
05:30 If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.

when to divorce

05:31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever shall put away his wife,
let him give her a writing of divorce,  but I tell you that whoever puts away his wife,  except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away commits adultery.

About making vows

05:33 “Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time,
‘You shall not make false vows, but shall perform  to the Lord your vows,’ but I tell you, don’t  swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can’t make one hair white or black.  But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.


The message



Just looking at the decalogue in Exodus 20:2-17, how many of these 10 laws are we not following today?
I think that six of these are not followed by many:

  • 3“You shall have no other gods before a me
  • In my church, many bows to statues of Saints and pray to them. It reminds me about  the Romans who had a favourite God. Many asks their saints (San Bartolo, San Giuseppe) for miracles. They do not call their saints as Gods but they ask there saints for miracles.
    The Church is not a place of silence and prayer. People talk loudly before the mass starts, like as they were at theater waiting for the spectacle to start.
  • I wonder if Catholics Christians follow this rule. Muslims think that Christians do not as they regard Jesus as a God.
  • 4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything …”
    5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
    About the fourth rule. Has anyone seen a Christian church (Lutheran, Christian or Orthodox) without images? Only Mosques are without images. So one can say that only Muslims follow this rule.  Jehovah witnesses do follow it partly. Their Kingdom halls do not have images on the walls but their books and brochures have plenty of them. But they follow the fifth rule (see below).

    About the fifth rule, a lot of Catholic Christians do not follow this rule. Most have a favourite saint statue to bow at. It is like the Romans had a favourite God.
    The church is a place for lotteries and money dealing. Every mass there is a lottery where you can win a statue of some saint. They do lotteries to get money for the Church as noone or only a few donates money without something material back.
  • 7“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,

    Oh my God!” “O mio Dio” “Gode Gud!” “Mon dieu!” This is a common expression in many countries and languages.

  • 8“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
    I think that only Jews follow this rule today. I will write more about this law and its interpretation, below.
  • 12 “Honor your father and your mother,
    ow many does not offend their parents when they are getting older and are hurt by dementia?
  • 13“You shall not murder.
    The Catholic church has killed thousands of people uring the centuries in their witchhunt in europe/ , and never asked pubblicly for forgiveness for this sin.  Police and military does this regularely according to secular law. Some Christians may not accept to make military service nor be a police because of this.
  • 14“You shall not commit adultery.
  • It is important to understand the meaning of adultery. Read more in EB In fifteen countries you can be stoned for adultery.
    Adultery is not only deceiving your husband your wife. One has to know the definition for different religions. You are not allowed to have sex without marriage.
  • 16 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  • 17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

Many have difficulties following the decalogue. But the law is not only the decalogue or the 10 commandments.There are, as I mentioned in my introduction, about 600 laws in the Pentateuch. Jesus also added also these commandments:

  • About offending your next
  • turn the other cheek also
  • love your enemy
  • forgive
  • About reconciling
  • about adultery in the hearth
  • About making vows



About fulfilling the law

Matthew 5,17: “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets.”  I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill.

What does “fulfill” means?

Case 1. curing a sick man on Sabbath

When Jesus cured a sick man in a Sabbath did he fulfill or interpret the law in a different way? I looked in to see what was written originally by the apostle of Matthew. In Greek it says πληρῶσαι plērōsai.

According to fulfill can be interpreted as “”to develop the full potentialities of…” the law. So fulfill in the words of Jesus could have meant to fulfill the real meaning of the law. That is, to follow the law of the Sabbath but not exagerating being hearthless, lettting e.g. people suffer (as in the  the case of curing and helping a sick)

Case 2. “stone” becomes “let the man without sin throw the first stone” and Jesus did not throw the first stone.

The definition of fulfill does not hold easily in this second case. Referring to Leviticus 20:20 and  Deuteronomy 22:22

Jesus said about the woman that was sentenced to death by stoning “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” .” ( John 8:7 ) and Jesus did not throw a stone.
I think that Jesus thinks that God is the one to judge or a man that is without sin and therefore near God.

Case 3. “Eye for eye” becomes “turn to them the other cheek also”

I get confused when Jesus said38You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’  (he refers to Exodus 21:24 ) 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

Here it is difficult to see fulfill as some kind of interpretation issue. One has to look at the real meaning fo “eye for eye”. I am not able to find a answer to this question.

The Italian translation “adempiere” can similarly be defined as “Eseguire pienamente”

Case 4. Never point out other peoples wrong behaviour in public.

I wrote about this in a previous post. Click here to read it. This is also a rule, Jesus added that many find difficult to follow.



Many of the decalogue commandments are not followed today. More difficult to follow are Jesus “Love your enemy” and especially “turn the other cheek also”. It is not easy to follow Jesus but the rewards are many “not only in Heaven” but also on earth. If we can follow him, we will live a more peaceful life.

I have a personal experience of that as a teacher with angry students. However difficult it is, it made my life easier to follow these commandments than following my own instincts of revenge, wrath, crying out and threathening for punishment….

You avoid the flow of stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline that makes you stupid and maybe do wrong moves, you will later repent.

And most important of all, your students learn to behave well to avoid punishment, not because bad behaviour is stupid.

Here in Italy, many use the helmet to avoid fines and not because you avoid riscs of life-treathening  injuries. So when the police is not on the road during lunchtime, no helmets are used by many.