Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
October 26, A.D. 2008
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
A reflection on today's Scripture:
If someone were to suddenly ask you, "Do you love God?" you would probably reply immediately, "Of course I love God." If that person persisted with a greater challenge, "Do you love God . . . enough?" then you might hesitate, then reply, "Well . . . no, who does?"
The lawyer in today's Gospel was quite satisfied when, in answer to the test question he gave Jesus, "Teacher, which commandment in the Law is the greatest?" Jesus quoted the great Shema from Deuteronomy, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength." (Even today, a pious Jew, as he enters his house, will touch a little box called a mezuzah which contains the words of the Shema, which is attached to the door post. The gesture reminds him of the great commandment.) We as Christians are bound to that same law. So, no wonder any honest person would reply to the person who asked if we love God enough, "No . . . who does?"
But Jesus went further, by naming a second commandment which is like the first, the law from Leviticus, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." When Jesus tells the lawyer, "On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets," the lawyer approves. So we have, in sum, what God's will is for us. It is love! And we cannot really love God without loving our neighbor.
How do we grow in love for God? We grow in His love by loving our neighbor. In that same first reading, God tells the Israelites whom their neighbor must especially include: the alien, the widow and the poor. And God tells them that He always hears the cry of the poor, for He is compassionate. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, tells us in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, that God's compassion is like a mother's love for the child of her womb.
Not loving God as we should is a sincere concern of most people. What a relief to know that if we look at just about everyone as our neighbor, we actually grow immensely in our love for God. If we're honest, we all have some difficulty with recognizing other people as neighbors, and trying to respond to them as God does -- with true compassion. Perhaps if we could actually look into the faces of everyone to whom we give money or clothing or help, it would make a difference. If we could see where they live, what their fears and dreams are, it would help us to see them as neighbors. If we could recognize the face of God in the immigrant, the poor, the hungry family, the sick man or woman without insurance, then we would find it easier to feel compassion. Numbers and labels don't really help.
As a postscript, we know how much tension and stress there is in our country at the present time. As a result of the financial downturn, many of our neighbors may be in serious need. If we can be sensitive to their needs, even in small ways, it will help us cope with our own anxieties and stress. Add that to compassion, frequent prayer, and reading and reflecting upon Scripture, including the Psalms. Then we would come much closer to loving God with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole strength.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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