XXX SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
exodus 22:20-26; 1 thessalonians 1:5c-10; matthew 22:34-40
when i was growing up, my father would say: «no matter who they are or what they do, treat your neighbours with love.» i didn’t understand what he meant until one sunday…
on our return from church, we spotted someone shovelling corn from our barn into a truck. we knew this man. he was known to steal but no one had caught him; no one had confronted him because of his temper. we’d caught him red-handed.
dad got out of the car. what would he do? dad said: «take as much as you need. if that’s not enough, come back tomorrow.»
the man dropped his shovel and went away. he never stole again. perhaps he learned to be a good neighbour that day. i know i did (cf. louis lehman).
that sunday, lehman learned that being a christian meant loving GOD and neighbour, and being in right relationship with GOD and neighbour.
this sunday, the readings challenge us to learn and practise three dimensions of the «greatest commandment»: love of GOD, of neighbour and of oneself.
in response to the scribe’s question—which commandment is the first of all?—JESUS gathers up the scripture of israel in one statement. the first part quotes the jewish creed, the shema, which every jew knew by heart: «hear, o israel: the LORD our GOD is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, and will all your soul, and with all your might.» alongside this creed, he places a passage from leviticus: «you shall love your neighbour as yourself.»
JESUS reminds the scribe that a combination of these texts makes the summary and essence of the law. in the first reading, from exodus, fidelity to the covenant with GOD is expressed in compassion towards the needy neighbour: the stranger, the widow, the orphan, the poor.
will i practise the three dimensions of one love? how will i love GOD, my neighbour and myself in the week ahead?