5.1. The "Logos" Incarnate, the Living Law
103. Thanks to the natural light of reason, which is a participation in the divine Light, men and women are in a position of scrutinizing the intelligible order of the universe to discover therein the expression of the wisdom, the beauty, and the goodness of the Creator. As a result of this knowledge, they can insert themselves in such order with moral acts that conform to it. Now, thanks to a deeper understanding of God’s design of which the Creator is the fitting prelude, the Scriptures teach the believer that this world was created by the Logos, from him and with him, the Word of God, the beloved Son of the Father, the uncreated Wisdom, and that the world finds in Him life and subsistence. In fact the Son is "image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, since in him (en auto) were created all things, in the heavens and on earth, those visible and those invisible . . . . All things were created by means of Him (di’ auton), and in His sight (eis auton). He is before all things, and all exist in Him (en auto)" (Col. 1:15-17).(89) The Logos is therefore the key of creation. Man, created in the image of God, carries in himself a special imprint of this personal Logos. And so he is called to be conformed with and assimilated into the Son, "the first born among all his brothers" (Rom. 8:29).
104. But because of sin, man made a bad use of his freedom, and he has thus distanced himself from the source of wisdom. Having done so, man has distorted the knowledge that he otherwise would have been able to have of the objective order of things, even of the natural order. Men, knowing that their works are evil, hate the light and elaborate false theories to justify their sins. (90) So the image of God in man is seriously darkened. Even if men’s nature prompts them still to a realization in God (the creature cannot pervert itself to the point of being completely unable to recognize the many signs that the Creator offers of Himself in creation), at the same time the fact is that men are seriously damaged by sin so that they fail to appreciate the profound meaning of the world, and instead view it in terms of pleasure, of money, or of power.
105. With his salvific Incarnation, the Logos, taking on a human nature, restored the image of God and restored man to to that same image. So Jesus Christ, the new Adam, carries to completion the original design of the Father regarding man, and at the same time reveals man to himself. “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. . . . He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too.”(91) Jesus Christ manifests therefore in His person an exemplary human life, in full conformity with the natural law. So he is the ultimate criterion to decipher correctly what are the authentic natural desires of man, when they are not concealed by the distortions introduced by sin and from disordered passions.
106. The incarnation of the Son was prepared by the economy of the old Law, sign of the love of God for His people Israel. According to some of the Fathers, one of the motives behind God giving to Moses a written law was to remind men of the exigencies of the natural law written in their hearts, but which was partially obscured and cancelled by sin.(92) This Law, which Judaism has identified with pre-existing Wisdom which presides over the destiny of the universe,(93) thus put forth, within the capacity of men marked by sin, the concrete practice of true wisdom, which consists in the love of God and of one’s neighbor. It contained liturgical and positive legal precepts, but also moral prescriptions, summarized in the Decalogue, which corresponded to the implications of the natural law. So the Christian tradition saw in the Decalogue a privileged and always valid expression of the natural law.(94)
107. Jesus Christ has not "come to abolish but to give full completion" to the Law (Matt 5:17).(95) As it appears in the Gospel texts, Jesus "taught like one with authority and not like the scribes" (Mark 1:22), and did not hesitate to relativize, or even to abolish, some of the particular and temporary dispositions of the Law. But He also confirmed the essential content and, in His person, carried out to perfection the practice of the Law, taking on for love the different types of precepts—moral, cultural, and legal—of the Mosaic Law, which corresponded with the three functions of prophet, priest, and king. St. Paul affirms that Christ is the end (telos) of the Law (Rom 10:4). Telos has here a double sense. Christ is the "end" of the Law, in the sense that the Law is pedagogical means which ought to lead mankind to Christ. But moreover, for all those who through faith live in Him by the Spirit of love, Christ "puts an end" to the positive obligations of the Law which were appended to the requirements of the natural law.(96)
108. In fact, Jesus expressed in different manners the ethical supremacy of Love (carità), which unites inseparably the love of God and the love of neighbor.(97) Love (carità) is the "new commandment" (John 13:34) that recapitulates all the Law and provides the key of interpretation for it: "From these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:40). It also reveals the profound meaning of the golden rule. “Do not do to anyone that which you do not want done to you” (Tobit 4:15) becomes with Christ the commandment of love (amore) without limit. The context in which Jesus cites the golden rule determines in depth its comprehension. It is found at the center of a section that begins with the commandment: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” and ends with the exhortation: “Be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful.”(98) Going beyond the rule of commutative justice, in the shape of a challenge, it invites one to take the initiative of a love which is a gift of self. The parable of the good Samaritan is characteristic of this Christian application of the golden rule: the center of interest passes from the care of oneself to the care of the other.(99) The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount explain the manner in which one ought to live the commandment of love, in thanksgiving and in the awareness of the other, elements proper of the new perspective assumed by Christian love. So the practice of love surpasses every closure and every limit. It gains a universal dimension and an incomparable force, since it renders the person capable of doing that which would be impossible without love.
109. But above all, Jesus carries to completion the law of love in the mystery of His holy Passion. Here, like Love incarnate, it reveals in a plenary human way what love is and what things it implies: to give life for those which one loves.(100) "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (John 13:1). Through the obedience of love to the Father and through desire for His glory which consists in the salvation of men, Jesus accepts the suffering and the death of the cross for the benefit of sinners. The same person of Christ, Logos and incarnate Wisdom, so becomes the living law, the supreme rule for every Christian ethic. The sequela Christi [following of Christ], the imitatio Christi [imitation of Christ] are the concrete ways to realize the Law in all of its dimensions.
(89) Cf. also John 1:3-4; 1 Cor 8:6; Heb. 1:2-3.
(90) Cf. John 3:19-20; Rom. 1:24-25.
(91) Vatican II, pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, n. 22. Cf. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the heresies, V, 16.2 [Sources chrétiennes, 153, 216-217] : "For in times long past, it was said that man was created after the image of God, but it was not [actually] shown; for the Word was as yet invisible, after whose image man was created, Wherefore also he did easily lose the similitude. When, however, the Word of God became flesh, He confirmed both these: for He both showed forth the image truly, since He became Himself what was His image; and He re-established the similitude after a sure manner, by assimilating man to the invisible Father through means of the visible Word.”
(92) Cf. St. Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos, LVII, 1 [Corpus christianorum, series latina, 39, 708] : " Inasmuch as the hand of our Maker in our very hearts hath written this truth, ‘That which to thyself thou wouldest not have done, do not thou to another.’ Of this truth, even before that the Law was given, no one was suffered to be ignorant, in order that there might be some rule whereby might be judged even those to whom Law had not been given. But lest men should complain that something had been wanting for them, there hath been written also in tables that which in their hearts they read not. For it was not that they had it not written, but read it they would not. There hath been set before their eyes that which in their conscience to see they would be compelled; and as if from without the voice of God were brought to them, to his own inward parts hath man been thus driven. (Quandoquidem manu formatoris nostri in ipsis cordibus nostris scripsit: “Quod tibi non vis fieri, ne facias alteri”. Hoc et antequam lex daretur nemo ignorare permissus est, ut esset unde iudicarentur et quibus lex non esset data. Sed ne sibi homines aliquid defuisse quaererentur, scriptum est et in tabulis quod in cordibus non legebant. Non enim scriptum non habebant, sed legere nolebant. Oppositum est oculis eorum quod in conscientia videre cogerentur; et quasi forinsecus admota voce Dei, ad interiora sua homo compulsus est)". Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, In III Sent., d. 37, q. 1, to. 1: In III Sent., d. 37, q. 1, a. 1: "Necessarium fuit ea quae naturalis ratio dictat, quae dicuntur ad legem naturae pertinere, populo in praeceptum dari, et in scriptum redigi [...] quia per contrariam consuetudinem, qua multi in peccato praecipitabantur, iam apud multos ratio naturalis, in qua scripta erant, obtenebrata erat"; Summa theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 98, art. 6.
(93) Cf. Sir 24:23 (Vulgate: 24:32-33).
(94) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 100.
(95) The Byzantine liturgy of St. John Chrysostom expresses well the Christian conviction when it places on the mouth of the priest that blesses the deacon in the thanksgiving after communion: "Christ our God, You Who are the completion of the Law and of the Prophets, and You Who have completed the whole mission received from the Father, replenish our hearts with delight and joy, in every time, now and always, for ever and ever. Amen."
(96) Cf. Gal 3:24-26: “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christi Jesus." On the theological notion of completion, cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Hebrew People and Their Holy Scriptures in the Christian Bible, especially n. 21.
(97) Cf. Matt. 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:27.
(98) Cf. Luke 6:27-36.
(99) Cf. Luke 10:25-37.
(100) Cf. John 15:13.