YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD . . . YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
This Sunday's readings are all about being in Right Relationship (Love) - with God and with our neighbor.
In our first reading (Exodus 22:20-26)
, we hear part of the Covenant Code, wherein God instructed Moses how the Israelites were to live in right covenant relationship with God and one-another. Particular emphasis was placed on the refugee (alien), the widow and the orphan - the most vulnerable of society.
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 him by 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."
In our Gospel reading (Matthew 22:34-40)
, we hear yet another test of Jesus, although this time with possibly a more sincere motive. In answer to the test question, Jesus condensed all 613 commands found in the Torah into two. In a sense, representing the two tablets of the 10 commandments.
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."
In our Epistle reading (1 Thessalonians 1:5-10)
, St. Paul reminds us that we are to be imitators of Jesus and of the Saints that have gone before us - with joy, even in affliction. This is how our faith is transmitted from one generation to the next.
Brothers and sisters: You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.
Love is not a passive word, it connotes action. It is easy to love when there is little cost. That's not the love we are called to. It is to love completely with our entire being; it is to love joyfully "even in great affliction". This is how God loves us and it is how he asks us to love him and one another.
to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017