For the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A) – October 29, 2017

We are born to love, we live to love, and we will die to love still more.”
(St. Joseph Cafasso)

This Sunday’s Theme: Love of God and Neighbor. 

Reading 1 and the Gospel reading speak about love of God and love of neighbor.  In Reading 2, Paul offers words of praise to his converts in Thessalonica since people everywhere can see by their lifestyle how they love Jesus and have embraced His teachings.

  • Reading 1 – Exodus 22:20-26      The Lord teaches that compassion ought to be shown to the alien and to the poor.

  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 18:2-4,47,51      Loving God for He is our strength.

  • Reading 2 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10      Paul tells the Thessalonians that their conversion to the Lord has been an example to all believers.

  • Gospel Matthew 22:34-40     The Pharisees continue to test Jesus with a question about the greatest commandment.

Reading 1     Exodus 22:20-266                     (Kindness to Others)

Context –  The Book of Exodus (the word “exodus” means “departure”) bears witness to God’s actions (about 1350-1200 BC) to deliver a people from bondage and to bind them to Himself in covenant. The Book of Exodus is a continuation of the story of Genesis. The fact that it takes its name from the Israelites’ going out of Egypt shows the importance of this episode in the life of Israel. At the center of all this stood Moses who was called by God to be the agent in delivering Israel from slavery, to be the interpreter of God’s redemptive work, and to be the mediator of the covenant. This book tells of the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, the birth and education of Moses and his flight into the land of Midian, his encounter with God on Mount Sinai (Horeb) (the burning bush), Moses’ return to Egypt and pleadings with Pharaoh, the plagues of Egypt, the institution of the Passover, the passing through the Red Sea, the giving of the ten commandments at Mt. Sinai, the golden calf, and the 40 years of wandering in the desert.
Today’s Reading – After Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai, he ascended the mountain again and God gave him other laws: the treatment of Hebrew slaves, rules of conduct for personal injuries, the rules and penalties for the protection of property, laws of justice and mercy, and laws of social responsibility – it is from these social responsibility laws that our reading for today is taken.

Thus says the LORD: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien (a person belonging to another country or government), for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. “If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among My people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him (See Pause, below). If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to Me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.” (This passage states that Israel’s God was also the protector of the legally defenseless at that time: the alien, orphan, widow, and poor – they basically had no rights under the Jewish laws.)

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “No interest loans” –  The above prohibition against interest has reference to charitable loans made for the relief of distress rather than to the purely business type of loan. Originally the Jews were an agrarian/nomadic society but they later moved to a commercial society where interest was allowed for commercial loans.
See also, Exodus 22:24 – “If you lend money to My people, the poor among you, you must not be like a money lender; you must not demand interest from them.”  

 Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 18:2-4,47,51             (God Our Rock)

Today’s Psalm – David wrote this psalm after he had subdued his political enemies and had established the kingdom of Israel firmly under his control. David expresses his delight in the Lord and thanked Him for giving him the victories he enjoyed. The multiplicity of titles David gives to the Lord in this psalm shows the gratitude and affection which David felt – David loved God.

R. – I love You, Lord, my Strength.
I love You, O LORD
(See Pause, below), my Strength, O LORD, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer.
R. – I love You, Lord, my Strength.
My God, my Rock of Refuge, my Shield, the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold! Praised be the LORD, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies.
(All the above is a confession of faith in believing God’s readiness to help us.)
R. – I love You, Lord, my Strength.
The LORD lives and blessed be my Rock! Extolled be God my Savior
(For us, this is a reference to Jesus.). You who gave great victories to Your king and showed kindness to Your anointed.
R. – I love You, Lord, my Strength.

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “I love You, O LORD” – “A person who loves has fulfilled the law.” (From Dom Augustin Calmet – an 18th century French Benedictine monk, philosopher, theologian, and Abbot.) 

Reading 2.     1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10                       (Imitating Christ)   

Context – The church at Thessalonica was a very young church. Paul’s two letters focus upon confirming young converts in the elementary truth of the gospel, conditioning them to go on unto holy living, and comforting them regarding the return of Christ.
Today’s Reading – Thessalonica is a thriving crossroad city in the Roman Empire. As a result of Paul’s anointed preaching, a dynamic Christian community is established and nurtured. In fact, this small Christian community becomes a wonderful example for many others, a model for all believers in Macedonia and Achaia. Their “lived faith” sounds forth to all around them.  People everywhere can see by their lifestyle how they love Jesus and have embraced His teachings.

Brothers and sisters: You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord (Christianity is an imitation of God after the manner revealed by Jesus. The apostles imitate Jesus and their converts imitate them.), receiving the word in great affliction (hardship), with joy from the Holy Spirit (Joy in the faith in spite of persecution is the work of the Holy Spirit within us and the imitation of Christ.), so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia of and in Achaia. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols (In the Bible, idols are synonymous with false gods.) to serve the living and true God and to await His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath (delivers us from the justice of the punishment for the unrepentant sinner.).

PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           Note – Thessalonica is the capital city of Macedonia which is located in the region of Achaia. And Achaia is located in south western Greece.

Gospel     Matthew 22:34-40                          (The Greatest Commandments)

Context – Matthew’s Gospel, written prior to 70 AD, is the first book of the New Testament, not because it was written first – some of Paul’s epistles take that honor – but because it is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. His purpose was to  prove to his fellow Jews that Jesus is the One to whom all the Jewish prophets point: the Messiah, the Christ, the King of the Jews. To accomplish his mission He uses more Old Testament quotations and references than any other Gospel.
Today’s Reading – A Pharisee asks Jesus: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus’ answer combines two quotations from Deuteronomy and Leviticus. From Deuteronomy 6:5, Jesus takes these following words: “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.” From Leviticus 19:18, Jesus quotes: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus and the Pharisee do not dispute the importance of the law. Their disagreement has to do with emphasis. The Pharisees, who tend to be legalistic, underscore compliance to the law.  In contrast, Jesus places emphasis on love. For Jesus, love of God and people are most important as the starting point from which obedience to the law will follow. Also, the Great Commandment joins together love of God and neighbor.

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees (They learned that the Sadducees would no longer oppose Jesus publicly. So now they went on the attack.), they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested Him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (The rabbis documented 613 commandments (including the Ten Commandments) in the Mosaic Law, 248 positive and 365 negative. Since no one could possibly keep them all, they divided them into “heavy” (more important) and “light” (less important). The Pharisees taught that the Jews needed to give attention to all the laws but particularly the “heavy” ones. This Pharisee was asking which of the “heavy” ones Jesus considered the “heaviest.”)  He said to him, “You shall 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 is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Whereby it is evident that all depend not upon faith only, though faith be the first, but much more upon charity, which is the love of God and of our neighbor, and which is the sum of all the law and the prophets; because he that hath this double charity, expressed here by these two principal commandments, fulfill all that is commanded in the law and the prophets. From Richard Bristow a 16th century English Catholic Biblical scholar.)

PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           Jesus, once again, bases His responses and reactions to life’s situations, upon sound scriptural teachings. Here He quotes from Deuteronomy and Leviticus. When tempted by the devil in the desert, He quotes from Deuteronomy. In all, it is listed that Jesus quoted from 49 different versus in the Bible. We have a much larger scriptural base to draw upon that Jesus did, to guide and direct our lifestyle. In addition to the Old Testament, we have the New Testament, the Catholic traditions starting from the apostles, and the Magisterium. “Thank you Jesus for living Your life in a manner that all of humankind can model their lives after Yours, by asking “What would Jesus do?” , and therefore become Christlike.”

Catechism 2055 – When someone asks Him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?” Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law: The commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.