origin and reason considered

Seldom do we pause to consider the origin or reason for the existence of and ubiquity of legal systems, for the rationale behind the law that guides and shapes our lives and our interactions with one another. If we were to do so we most likely would paint an often negative and limiting portrait of a system designed primarily to restrict our actions and constrict our freedoms. We might more positively describe the law as a protective shield that helps keep evil at bay, while insuring safety and legitimate recourse for those who are injured by those who would wish to do us harm. And those would be reasonable definitions but would significantly fall short in providing adequate resolution to the questions of its source – the where – and reason – the why.

God's Law

God’s Law

We have been taught that our system of laws owes much of its origin to the Magna Carta Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England adopted in 1215 and further influenced by the Common Law of England developed during the Middle Ages. And while those are certainly sources for our laws there are other laws that we follow that are far more ancient and of much greater import. Written within the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence are written these words, “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,” and it is here that we find the root origin and source of the law – God.

The truth is that the law comes from God. He is the source of and reason for all things and He created all things out of pure love. Because of His love He instilled into our very being the Law of Nature, or natural law. God subsequently embellished the laws written onto the human heart by giving us, through Moses, fundamental Commandments, meant to remind us in a visceral way of how we are to behave and act toward Him and one another. It is from these laws of God that all the laws of man have been derived.

The central message that Jesus taught consistently reiterated and emphasized this point. Jesus said more than once that the greatest commandment in the law was, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[1] But then he added, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments[2] in order to unequivocally confirm that these two commandments were the source from which the entirety of the law was derived.

Jesus says this to underline the importance of God’s love, to show us that God is the root of life and therefore the root of law.

If you doubt that, pick up that dust-covered Bible and read Exodus 20:2-17 or Deuteronomy 5:6-21, then read Matthew 22:34-40.


[1] Mt 22:37-39.

[2] Mt 22:40.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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