The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
October 29, 2023 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:34-40
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My initial reaction to learning that love was at the very center of Catholic Christian life, was one of surprise mixed with a little confusion. I had progressed through many years of Catholic education and this emphasis on love was hardly mentioned. I knew the two commandments of loving God and neighbor where part of the package, but that it all could in some way be boiled down to just those two commandments seemed overly simple. Although I would have to add, I did not think this was a bad idea. And it was certainly worth further investigation.
What followed was more than a decade of formal education that led to my earning a PhD in Historical and Systematic Theology from a school that was just one inch short of recently defeating a tough football team from Ohio State University. (The luck of the Irish?)
My formal education was followed by close to fifty years of teaching theology at three Jesuit universities. During all that time, I continued to learn more and more about our shared Catholic Christian faith. And that certainly included much of my continued reading, research and theological exploration focused on the meaning and application of those two great commandments - the ones that are the substance of this Sunday’s gospel.
At the Last Supper, Jesus again addressed the place of love in his teachings and stated it could be further refined into one commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” He “personalized” love by pointing to his life which fully combined the love of God (the Father) with the love of you and me and everyone else.
Most of us are familiar with the statement that “God is love.” That means that God is certainly not indifferent or distanced from the Creation that God caused. In fact, if God separated from Creation, it is thought that all Creation would simply return to the nothingness that is was at “the beginning.” While this is close to being an unimaginable idea, its point is clear. Creation needs a Creator.
And why did God create all that is, most especially us? Did God need us for any selfish divine purpose? No, God created to share existence and life with us – all of us. God loved and we became. Which may include billions of others should we not be alone in the universe. A thought growing in possibility among today’s cosmologists and astronomers. So too, I suspect, is belief in a loving God.
David M. Thomas, PhD