I am looking for clarification of the issue on whether the old Mosaic law was abolished by the coming of Christ. I seem to be reading contradictory information on the issue. For instance the Catechism states in paragraph 121: “The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.” Yet Popes Benedict the XIV and Pius XII along with many others state unequivocally that the coming and death of Christ have abolished the old law. Is the teaching of the Catechism, therefore, in error? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
“Ex Quo Primum”
March 1, 1756
“Misticci Corpus Christi”
No. 29 & 30
June 29, 1943
The old covenant has not been “revoked” but has been fulfilled in Christ.
Christ’s teaching, His life, death and resurrection shows us the way to live the spirit of the OT in full without being tied to the “law” of the old covenant.
You may also take Christ at his word, as He said in Matthew 5:17.
“I did not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them.”*
In Christ’s arrival, using the template of the Old Covenant’s form of a ministerial priesthood that gave sacrifices to the Lord, a tradition of *teaching and authority by the priesthood *(and, by extension, authority to develop human rules formed to adhere to God’s instruction–the Mosaic Law) as granted by God to these men, and, as time passed, the recording of God’s teaching and experiences of others guided by the Lord, as the scripture of the Old Testament.
Christ made nothing new in terms of these three elements but, through Himself, fulfilled–that is, made perfect–these three elements of the original Covenant to form the new Covenant, just as He said.
Christ chose twelve men and trained them specifically to be a new ministerial priesthood that was granted stronger authority; one was even made the steward of the High Priest, a tradition continued today as the Pope. As with the old Covenant ministers, the power and authority of this ministry was to be passed on as office, or bishopric.
The Pope and his bishops form a teaching authority, the Magisterium, have rules set by tradition that cannot change (doctrine and dogma) while establishing human rules that can adapt as required (Canon law) and guide the laity.
All ordained ministers offer a new, and Perfect Sacrifice rather than the animals given to God from the old Covenant.
And, over the many years, these traditions and stories have been codified under God’s inspiration to form the works of the New Testament.
What Christ changed was the manner in which the law is fulfilled, the manner in which man becomes righteous. Man has no righteousness of his own, apart from God. And yet humanity is born “apart from God” as a result of Adam’s sin which was essentially a rejection of God’s authority and therefore a rejection of God as God. Under the Old Covenant we’re still in that state but tested to see if we can live up to, or fulfill, Gods standards for righteousness on our own. But the lesson to be learned is that we cannot. This is the “righteousness based on the law” referred to in Phil 3:7-9, which also mentions the new way, the right way which Jesus made available: “the righteousness of God, based on faith”.
The difference is that now, under the New Covenant, we’re reconciled with God and, as we come to believe in and trust in Him, rather than ourselves, we enter communion with Him, His Spirit dwelling within, so He may do His work of justification/salvation in us, described in the New Covenant prophecies of Jer 31:3-34. IOW, in the OC we attempt to become or prove our righteousness on our own, apart from God, apart from Whom we can do nothing (John 15:5), while in the NC we become righteous by no longer remaining apart from Him; we’re now under grace IOW. Another way to say this: We don’t fulfill the law in order to be righteous enough to be at one with God, rather we must first become at one with God in order to fulfill the Law, the right way. This is the purpose of the Atonement: “at-one-ment”. So the Law must still be fulfilled and Romans 2:13 makes perfect sense in light of this: "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous"
Another relevant verse, describing what, exactly, effects this change in us: the fulfillment of the greatest commandments, the supernatural gift of love, God’s authentic righteousness for man:
**Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 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.”10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. **Rom 13:8-10
I like how St basil of Cesarea put it: If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, . . . we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands . . . we are in the position of children.
What I think, could be wrong, is that the Law was fulfilled in Christ, and to believe that our
salvation is dependent on obeying the Law is to believe that what Jesus did was not good
enough. We ought to live as righteously as possible, but realize also that we simply can-
not, so we therefore need the righteousness of Jesus who did in fact fulfill the entire Law.
The Law of Moses is on the one hand meant to lead us to righteous living, on the other it
is designed to condemn us, prove that we ourselves are incapable alone in ever having e-
nough righteousness to merit our own salvation.
This answer is very much lacking, I’m sure, perhaps someone else can fill in the blanks
or correct me even.
Since the law of God is Love…how can it be revoked?
Jesus is very clear that all of the law and all of the prophets are founded on Love. John tells us that God is Love and that to know love is to know God.
This being the case, we can see that the Old covenant - the old law has not been - and cannot be - abolished.
Jesus never had a problem with the law - but he did have a problem with how the people had become slaves to the law.
Many of the learned were so dogmatic about it that they lost sight of the love upon which it was founded.
Others lived in fear of disobedience because of the strict and severe punishments.
Still others, finding that they could not live up to it, dispaired and simply did not live it at all…
Each of these things is a failure to understand the great Love God has given us and wants to give to us.
St Paul, in trying to explain this idea says (in 1 Cor) “all things are lawful but not all things build up”. This simple - yet complex - statement is saying that it’s not so much about observance of particulars as it is about being rightly focused on Love…choosing those things which build up that Love.