Friday, 23 October 2020 16:54

Loving God and each other

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30OTAWeb400When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must 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 resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’
(Matthew 22:34-40)


Another attempt to trap Jesus is contained in the Gospel this Sunday. Opinions and arguments about which was the greatest commandment were common among the Pharisees and questions about it were frequently asked of rabbis. Clearly, those who asked this question of Jesus were trying to disconcert or ‘wrong foot’ Jesus in an attempt to discredit him with his reply. Once again, Jesus does not cleverly sidestep the question; he goes right to the heart of the matter.

Love of God and love of neighbour are brought together in one ‘great commandment’. In refusing to be drawn into an ‘either/or’ response Jesus, as he did last week, brings two separate things into right relationship. Love of God and love of neighbour belong together. That’s why the first reading today from Exodus warns against mistreating strangers, widows and orphans and talks about the proper conduct of loans and pledges. The warning comes from God’s lips. It’s not just a nice piece of social philosophy; it is the demand of living our faith.

It means that true faith, as Jesus teaches it, is about being in loving relationship with God and other human beings. Religious rituals are meant to be ways of reflecting on, savouring, remembering, celebrating and expressing that love. Sometimes they just end up as ‘empty’ rituals, when love has been replaced by fear, or when love is absent.

The Kingdom of God is not some far off place, but the moments when God’s life breaks into the human story. Those moments bring love, wisdom, grace, compassion, generosity, forgiveness and peace. Those practiced in the things of God recognise God’s presence most of all in loving relationships. If our rituals grow out of and express our sincere love for God and neighbour then they have value. We are always at risk of putting ritual above the practise of love.

Join us in celebrating at home this Sunday using the links below.

Celebrating At Home for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time PDF             
Celebrating At Home for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time EPUB


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