Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Christian life is a triangle. God, Others, And Self. We might prefer to think if we led a good life, if we take time to love our God and ourselves, we have done our duty. The community often feels like a deliberately contrived plot to detract us from honoring God and ourselves. It is difficult to demolish this warped version and acknowledge Christian life as triangular. God, Others, and self.
Today’s readings emphasize this triangle. They see neighbors not as necessary evils but as indispensable partners in our common enterprise of loving God. In a sense they demand that we seek to uncover our God in the problems and pains of others. Here there is no either God or, Neighbor; There is only both God and neighbor. The first reading is a selection from the covenant code in Exodus. It is part of God’s communication to Israel on Mount Sinai. Which emphasized the legal obligations of the covenant people. This passage exemplifies incontestable laws; Thus, it was Yahweh speaking directly to his people and confronting them personally about community duties.
Yahweh insists that to honor one’s neighbor is to honor God. To make the point, the text speaks about welfare cases, (widows, orphans, the poor) and those lacking full rights of citizenship. (Aliens). One should not wrong the widow or orphan; otherwise, Yahweh will take immediate action. One should return the cloak of the poor before sunset; otherwise, Yahweh will surely redress the evil. One should not molest or oppress the alien, for Israel experienced this evil as an alien in Egypt.
First Thessalonians is the first writing of the New Testament. (AD 50) In today’s Thanksgiving, Paul describes the interaction of the Christian missionaries and the former Greek pagans. He remarks that the missionaries acted on behalf of the Thessalonians when they shared the Gospel message with them. In turn, this community imitated Paul and his companions despite significant obstacles. Specifically, the Thessalonians left their dead idols and turned to the living God.
Paul notes another dimension of this interaction. In imitating the missionaries. The Thessalonians become the model to all Greece. The Thessalonians, in believing the Good News, shared a relationship not only with God, but also with the community.
Out of the 248 “Thou shalt’s”, and the 365 “Thou shalt not’s” that comprised the commandments in the Torah. Jesus selected just two to answer his inquisitor in today’s Gospel. Love God, (DT 6.: 4 – 5). And love of neighbor (LV 19. 18 ). Jesus acknowledged that these commandments offered the proper spirit which should regulate all other laws. Unlike his source, (Mark. 12. 30 -31 ), who simply takes the two commandments, Matthew remarks that the 1st and greatest commandment is like the second. In addition. Matthew observes that these two commandments are a basic summary of all the scriptures (“all the Law and the Prophets”). Although Matthew sees Jesus as the fulfillment of the law, (5: 17-49), love of neighbor is vital. Indeed, one cannot love God without loving one’s neighbor.
Our God speaks to us for the needs of others. If Christian life is indeed triangular, the hearts in our community have a claim on our time and energy. The oppressed cry out to those of us drastically, dramatically, as they did in Moses ‘s time. The despairing call upon us as realistically as Jesus called upon the hurting people of ancient Galilee. Only the times and the places have been changed,- the needs are as real and painful as ever. We’re urged not to disparage widows and orphans, the poor and the homeless, the immigrants and the minorities -, but to respect them as our sisters and brothers, as in Christ. We are asked not to pity them, but to enable them to lead a truly human life. We are bidden not to laugh at them, but to help them to laugh again. The only adequate, the only incontestable reason for our involvement is that Christian life is a triangle. God, Others, Himself, we are all in this together.
Question – Who are your neighbors? What are you doing for your neighbors? What could you be doing for your neighbors if you love them “with all your soul, and with all your heart with all your mind”.
Question- Have you ever been (or ever felt like you were) an alien in a foreign land? How did you feel? How did you react to kindness from strangers?