In the reading from Ephesians, we are given a list of rules of behavior we should be living. When we look at these things, we might wonder: “How can we do all these things?” Well, there is a section from Ephesians that has been left off in which we are told we should “put on the new Man,” “or put on Christ.” In other words, the gift of the Holy Spirit that we receive in Baptism and Confirmation should be working within us to help us to act as we ought. However, sometimes there are obstacles that prevent the Holy Spirit from working. A human example: two people fall in love and marry. All goes well but then troubles in communications set in and the couple seeks help through a marriage counselor and gets techniques to follow to address their problems. Commandments and rules do the same in our spiritual life. They give us techniques to follow to live properly. Their purpose is to make the rules (themselves) obsolete. This is what St. Augustine meant when he said: “Love God and do what you want.” In other words, “If you really love God, you’ll do what He wants (live like you should) and won’t have to worry about specific rules.”
The Commandments are not “ends” in themselves but helps to doing right things. We see this in the Gospel. The synagogue official is angry at Jesus for curing the “bent over woman” on the Sabbath. The law says “no work on the Sabbath.” Jesus broke the letter of the law, but not its spirit. The spirit of the Sabbath law is to give a day to God to praise and thank Him. How better to praise God than by coming to the salvation of one in need?
“Love God; love neighbor,” that fulfills the whole law.