Sunday October 25th 2020: Read Br Michael’s Gospel Reflection The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Love of God and others
Love is a major theme in books, plays, songs, poems, films, and popular culture. As we approach Valentine’s Day each year we are surrounded by a multitude of cards, chocolates and roses in an attempt to convey our affection for the one we love. There is nothing wrong with this. However, there is always the danger that we have a passing and temporary idea of love. In short, our experience of love can be a little romantic! This is not the love which Jesus speaks of in the gospel today.
Before we listen to Jesus speaking to us, let us briefly look at the first reading from the Book of Exodus. God is speaking to the people of Israel and reminding them that once they were strangers and slaves in Egypt. They were treated cruelly by their oppressors. God challenges them not to treat others especially foreigners similarly. They are told, ‘You are not be harsh with widows or orphans.. if you lend money to the poor, do not demand interest.., and if you take another’s cloak, you must give it back before sunset.’ In short, they are to treat each others, especially strangers with compassion and love.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees come to Jesus and ask him within the Law, which is the greatest commandment. This might be another trick question from them, because there were thousands of laws that Jews were meant to obey. Jesus reduces the whole of the Law down to two; ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and all your mind. This is the greatest. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law.’
It would be very easy and a mistake to think that this a history lesson from Jesus aimed at the Pharisees. These challenging words are meant for each of us today. Jesus does not ask us to merely like each other; he asks us to love each other! This is as we know from experience is not easy at all. There are those among our friends and even within our families that we often find hard to get on with never mind love. But this is exactly what Jesus asks us to do. This is the cost of being a follower of Jesus. This is the responsibility that we inherit if and when we call ourselves Christian.
There are two parts to Jesus’ message; love of God and love of our neighbour. I can’t say I love God, go to church, say my prayers and then refuse to love those around me. It’s not one and not other; it’s both. They are opposite sides of the same coin. As we read, ‘We cannot love God whom we have not seen, if we do not love our brother and sister whom we do see.’ (1 John 4.20).
One poet said that God is in the bits and pieces of every day. God is love; therefore love is also in the bits and pieces of everyday. We express and experience love through the normal daily activities and events of our ordinary lives. As the first reading reminds us, it is through how we treat each other and how we are treated, that we love and are loved. We express and experience love through our relationship with others.
Loving others as Jesus asks is not easy, especially when he asks us to love not only our friends, strangers, those who are poor, but also our enemies. This is the cost of being a Christian. Jesus never said that being one of his followers was going to be easy!
We end with these words from the 1st Letter of St. John:
Our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action. (1 John 3. 18)
– Br Michael Moore OMI
|Gospel||Matthew 22:34-40 ©|
The commandments of love
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