There are over 600 laws in the ancient Jewish culture so how does Jesus fulfill them all, even those that are most miniscule in nature and practice? In today’s Gospel, He first validates and confirms the law. He promises greatness to those who teach the law and insignificance to those who break it, and teach others to break it. With so many laws it is hard to imagine someone being able to live without breaking even one of the little laws. Perhaps it is those tiniest of laws that can best help us answer the question of Jesus’ fulfillment.
The law was given to help the people live good, clean, moral lives. While the moral law is imbedded in our very being, our Imago Dei, we are subject to the weaknesses of the flesh and it is this concupiscence that needs to be educated and trained to do good and avoid evil. Yes, the law has a purpose and it was given by God out of love for us..
Matthew spends a great deal of time showing how Jesus explains His fulfillment of the law. These teachings of Jesus may have been separate and given at different times but pulling them all together serves a purpose. Each and every one of these teachings has the same underlying fulfillment.
The old law had to do with activity and actions performed out of obligation; it belongs to the realm of the intellect. It does not require love. Maybe at the beginning the Israelites followed the law out of love for God but over time it became a retinue of activities performed habitually and without much heartfelt sincerity. This was especially true of the Pharisees, which is why Jesus often challenged them.
Jesus’ fulfillment of the law was to move it from the head to the heart. That is where all action originates in thought and that is where the conscience of the Imago Dei resides. Jesus would show His fulfillment by allowing the law to crucify Him while He showed us true Love and Mercy.