Reading from Franciscan priest Richard Rohr's book this week - Things Hidden/Scripture as Spirituality - I came upon the paragraphs below and have been thinking about them for a few days. His premise (I believe) is that we Christians can get so hung up on the letter of the law that we cannot see nor hear Jesus' teachings to us about the law............maybe you'll read on, find it interesting, boring, confusing or enlightening - Happy Sacred Sunday!
"The reason we can move toward real freedom is because we started with moral laws and clear expectations from authority figures, which put good and needed limits to our natural egocentricity. I'll bet most of you reading this book began rather conservatively. A good therapist will tell you that predictability, order and tradition are really the only way to create a healthy ego structure in the early years.
Torah, or Law, is the best and most helpful place to begin, but not the place to stay, and surely not the place to end. "Written letters bring death, but the Spirit alone brings life," as Paul said (2 Corinthians 3:6).
One person who understood this is Karl Rahner, the German Jesuit, possibly the single greatest Catholic theologian of the twentieth century. He wrote volume after volume of theology as the church rediscovered itself before, during and after Vatican II. Rahner wrote in his 1972 book, The Shape of the Church to Come: "We must show men and women today, at least the beginnings of the path that leads credibly and concretely into the freedom of God. But have no doubt, freedom is the goal. Where men and women have not begun to have the experience of God and of God's spirit who liberates us from the most profound anxieties of life, and from our endless guilt, there is really no point in proclaiming to them the ethical norms of Christianity" But that is exactly what we do. Unfortunately, most do not take the law as a foil, but rather as a fulfillment.
Until people have had some level of inner religious experience, there is no point in asking them to follow the ethical ideas of Jesus. Indeed, they will not be able to understand them. At most they would be only the source of even deeper anxiety. You quite simply don't have the power to obey the law, especially issues like forgiveness of enemies, nonviolence, humble use of power and so on, except in and through union with God. But Paul comes at it from the opposite direction, "Give them the law until it frustrates them to hell!""