Sunday Reading October 22nd & 23rd
The Greatest Commandments
The readings for this Sunday remind us of the love God has for us and the love we are to have for Him and for our “neighbors.” God loved us first and that enables us to love Him.
The gospel for today is taken from Matthew 22:34-40.
“When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘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. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’"
The Jews of Jesus’ time had over 600 laws they were to obey. Jesus often commented about obeying the letter of the law versus the meaning behind the law. When I think about all these laws, I marvel at the complexity that must have existed. No wonder the Jews needed their elders to constantly interpret and monitor these laws.
Then Jesus spoke. He was God’s son, but was known as a simple man. A man of few words, carefully chosen and spoken often in parables. This time, Jesus spoke very clearly and distinctly. No hidden meanings, no metaphors. He condensed those 600+ laws into two basic commandments.
· We must love God with all of our being.
· We must love our neighbors as if they were us.
We move from complexity to simplicity. In all that we do and say we must consider the depth of our love for our God and the depth of our love for our neighbors. Everything else must be a subset of these two commandments.
We live in a complex world; often surrounded by sophisticated rules and challenges. And yet, if we look closely at our own lives and our world, it all boils down to our love of God and our love of humanity. Everything else becomes smoke and mirrors.
We hear in our first reading of today the words from Exodus 22:20-26 which remind us of our obligation to love humanity.
Thus says the LORD:"You shall not molest or oppress an alien,for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword;then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.”
"If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people,you shall not act like an extortioner toward himby demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge,you shall return it to him before sunset;for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in?If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”
God wants us to return of the complete love that He has already given us. We are capable of such love only because He loved us first. Our compassion for our fellow man comes from our remembrance that we too were once aliens and then God loved us and claimed us for His own.
The peace of Christ be upon you,
Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.