Sunday Says Podcast – October 26, 2014 Mass Readings and Reflections
Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (NAB Translation)
Welcome to the Sunday Says podcast for October 26, 2014, the Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Thank you for joining us as we begin preparing our hearts and minds for Mass by previewing and reflecting on the readings. The selected readings this week challenge us with a question: “Do we show God we love him with our whole, heart, soul, strength and mind?” If so how do we show it? Let’s take a look at the readings. As always, we are using the Jerusalem translation for copyright purposes.
Our first reading, from the Old Testament, comes from the second book of the Bible, Exodus, in a passage in which God gives laws concerning how we should treat both God and neighbor. In fact the heart of all sin is the failure to adequately love both God and neighbor. The Hebrew people of ancient Israel were surrounded by large and powerful nations who worshipped a variety of false gods and goddesses in fertility cults. There was always a temptation to mix the neighboring religions in with the Hebrew religion, especially during times of famine or to create political alliances to gain military advantage (during times of war) or economic advantage (in times of peace). To give in to the temptation to worship false gods showed a lack of faith in the real God. This was a grave offense—an insult to the one True God who had rescued His people from Egypt. God, being merciful by nature, has an interest in protecting the dignity of human beings as well. Therefore He made it a serious offense to take advantage of, or to oppress the poor, the weak, or the marginalized. These were some of the sins that “cried out to heaven.” Jesus recapitulated this theme in the New Testament where He makes it clear that loving God and loving neighbor are two inseparable sides of the same coin. Yet today we still, as much as ever, face the temptation to serve the false Gods of power, wealth, and pleasure– while often ignoring the physical and spiritual needs of our neighbor. Jesus warns of the consequences of this throughout the Gospels that we might take these words very seriously.
The response for the responsorial Psalm is
“I love you, Lord, my strength.”
The Second Reading is from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. In this passage St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that it was by direct observation of the Christian life modeled by Paul and the early saints, and by directly experiencing the joy of the Holy Spirit that the Thessalonians were fully converted to the Gospel. This conversion came about even despite “great opposition all round”. Joy, however, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit cannot be dependent on circumstances. In fact it is a supernatural joy always present in spite of our circumstances. The news of the conversion of the Thessalonians spread quickly because the results were authentic and spoke for themselves. This is the way the Good News was spread through Christian communities and should be our model today. We too are facing great opposition in the current culture. Is our conversion genuine and producing a contagious joy and hope despite what is happening in the world around us? Are we showing that we are authentic by bearing the fruit of good works for the glory of God and the benefit of our neighbor? Do we strive to be models of the Christian life worth imitating?
In our reading from the Gospel of Matthew we see Jesus brilliantly summarize the purpose of the Old Testament Law and Prophets by marrying two very important verses together from the Torah, specifically Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Deuteronomy 6:5 is part of the Great Shema, which is the foundational prayer that every Jewish child is taught. It says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Add to it Leviticus 19:18, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and suddenly we see the interweaving of the two threads of ‘love of God’ and ‘love of neighbor’ that form the backbone of Christian life. Leviticus 19:18 is given in the context of teaching us not seek revenge or to bear grudges. Of course Jesus, as fulfillment of the Old Testament law, goes way beyond that, telling us to do good, even to those who hate us. He lives out those words by dying on the cross. Love of neighbor must be rooted in love of God, otherwise it remains weak and perishable and can only go as far as mere human love can go, weak and undependable. Christ’s love was a supernatural love and His sacrifice for mankind, grounded in the love of His Father, show how His words “to love our neighbor” are to be interpreted. How close are we? Do we show that we love the God we cannot see by loving the person that we can see?
Feedback Line Number:
(512) 200-ACNM (2266)