The Readings: Numbers 21:4-9, 21-35; Acts 17:(12-21)22-34; Luke 13:10-17
One of the major challenges in interpreting Romans is Paul’s treatment of the law. Does ‘law’ always refer to Torah, the law of Moses? (Yes, I think.) And what of his contrasting statements?
“Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (3:31)
“But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” (5:20)
“So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.” (7:12)
Today’s Gospel offers another way of approaching this challenge, reminding us that observing Torah necessarily involves interpretation: which bit is relevant, and how is it relevant? And that’s what the synagogue leader and Jesus are arguing about. We might conclude that it’s often in the interpretation that—in Paul’s words—“the trespass multiplied.”