The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
October 25, 2020 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:34-40
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
Now available: The Gospels’ Greatest Hits. While this is only an imaginative guess, what do you think would be chosen to be included in this collection? My guess is that the gospel for today would be. It presents the central teaching of Jesus, which he offers when asked what he thought was the greatest commandment of God. From his Jewish background, he recited part of the Shema prayer, which is recited daily by prayerful Jews. It can also be the prayer by everyone!
Here’s how it appears in today’s gospel: “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” Note the repetition of the word all. The prayer is a reminder that every aspect of ourselves is to be part of our love for God. Nothing is to be held back.
Then Jesus states that there’s another commandment, one that is essentially connected to the Shema prayer. They are like two sides of a coin. We all know it well. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
What is worth our reflection is why Jesus connects these two commandments. It’s because of the way that God organized the world. We each are “images of God.” Then God breathed the Spirit of life into each of us. When we love our neighbor, we are, at the same time, loving God. When we claim that we love God, we must include loving our neighbor. This can be very challenging at times, but that’s God’s way of transforming the world.
Just recently, Pope Francis issued an encyclical letter that points to God’s presence and interest in our world. It focuses on the many ways we relate to each other as sisters and brothers. Called Fratelli Tutti. (Its title is taken from a letter written by St. Francis of Assist to the sisters and brothers of the religious communities he founded). The pope offers us a comprehensive teaching on social relationships, both those we experience each day and those we participate in around the world.
In this letter, he mentions the word love 125 times. Family is mentioned more than 40 times. World over 160 times. In other words, love of God and love of neighbor are connected over and over again. He concludes his letter with a prayer, ”Come Holy Spirit, show us your beauty reflected in all the peoples of the earth, that we may discover anew that all are important and all are necessary, different faces of one humanity that God so loves. Amen.
©David M. Thomas, PhD