Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 25, 2020
Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta
Readings: Book of Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51;
Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40
In our first reading, we hear a small section from a larger part of the Book of Exodus which deals with very practical issues of Jewish tribal life. The chapter from which today’s reading comes deals with other such matters like violating young women, repayments, and what is to be done with the first fruits of the harvest.
God, through the writings of Moses, did not leave much to chance.
Widows and orphans were often mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, because of the importance of family solidarity. Widows and orphans needed to be taken care of as member of the larger communal family, strangers and foreigners are to be welcomed and cared for as well, for they are reminders to the Jewish community that they too were once wanderers.
Lending and extortion is an important legal and religious area for care. The God of Israel is compassionate and so those under the covenantal care of God must reveal that same compassion even to returning of a person’s coat which has been given as collateral. All these little and large prescriptions of the Law were given so as to make visible and present, the particular and practical love which God has had for the people of Israel.
The Gospel narrative of Saint Matthew is a “Question-and-Answer” session between the Jewish men of the law and Jesus the actual fullness of that law. Jesus is asked about how He reads the law and especially which of the laws does He consider the greatest or most important. In great simplicity, Jesus answers that loving God and loving one’s neighbor are similar and the greatest. All the prophets and all the other laws depend on these two to be alive in the Jewish community. After giving His answer, the “court” seems to be in recess.
We are confronted once more with the ancient problem of the true meaning of loving ourselves and that of what it means to love God, with all our hearts, souls and minds. To love God and to love our neighbor and to love ourselves, these are not easy for most be to absorb. I hope this will help.
Jesus came to save us from the hell of self-hatred based on false identities. We can hate ourselves or better, not love ourselves, because we so easily identify our quality with our quantity. We love ourselves for the amount of good we find ourselves doing, or not doing. None of us does the good we desire enough so as to love the self that God does. Jesus will warn the Pharisees and us next Sunday about grasping at our true identities from outside. He came to save us by coming inside and asking us to believe in Him by believing what He says we are.
Loving God then is letting God love us from the inside out and for us to love God from the outside in. Allowing God to be our personal creator is prelude to allowing Jesus to be our personal and collective savior as well.
The Great Commandment then is to allow God to be God in our lives and allow ourselves to be a mystery whose quality and quantity are gifts to be accepted and then shared.
Question of the Day: Will you accept Jesus’ invitation to love God, neighbor, and yourself with all your heart, soul, and mind?
Prayer: “I love you, O Lord, my strength, O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.”