What is Jesus saying? The greatest are those who practice lives of  “don’t do this,” and “don’t do that”? Then why did he constantly challenge the Pharisees who lived that prescripted life of rules, laws, prohibitions, exclusions?

Perhaps an understanding of today’s gospel hinges on the meaning of  “the law and the prophets.” Is God’s law only a list of have-nots, will-nots, and shall-nots? Not really. For Jesus later clarified that all the commandments of God can be encapsulated in two rules: love God and love others as you love yourself.

So I ask myself today: when am I fulfilling God’s law? Is it when I follow all the rules, shielded from every temptation, living in a world where “sinners” need not apply? Or is it when I choose the risky business of being present in the world, living the Christ-example with those who are hurting, broken, poor and needy?

—Howard Craig serves as Provincial Assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Province Jesuits.