Spiritual readings for Sunday 29th October
23 October 2017 CGI news
Week of 23rd October (reference: readings for Sunday 29th October)
30th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Reading: 1Th 1, 5 c-10; Mt 22, 34-40
“Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself."
Before reflecting on this week readings, it is necessary to identify briefly the social groups in Jesus’ time. There were many tribes in Israel, but some of them stood out: the Sadducees, the doctors of law, the Pharisees, the Zealots, the Sicarii, the Herodians and the Essenes. In the Gospel of this week, Matthew says that "the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees. Then they met as a group and one of them asked Jesus, to challenge him: 'Master, which is the most important law commandment?' (Verses 34-36).
The Sadducees were landowners and members of the priestly elite. Having the power, they were intransigent with the people. They were responsible for Jesus’ death, because they collaborated with the Roman Empire, out of fear of losing their positions and privileges. The Pharisees were nationalists against the Roman Empire. They were mainly made up of craftsmen and small traders. In religion, they comply strictly with the law in all fields and situations of daily life. Therefore, for the Pharisees, the important thing was the "letter" and not the "spirit" of the law.
If Jesus "silenced the Sadducees", it is because he had the power and the only way to oppose it was through the "evidence of law". Therefore, the Pharisees asked about the greatest commandment of the law.
Jesus knew where they wanted to go and did not hesitate to start with the basic creed (Shemá) of Judaism included in the Deuteronomy (Dt 6: 5). He says: 'you shall love thy God with all your heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy understanding!' This is the first and most important commandment "(verses 37-38). It means that we must love God with a total love, which controls our emotions, directs our thoughts and drives each of our actions.
However, Jesus immediately adds the second commandment "which is similar to the first", saying: "You shall love thy neighbor as thyself". The entire law and the prophets depend on these two commandments "(verses (39-40).
These two commandments are essential to Christianity. In fact, they are the grounds, in particular for the Vincentians. As God is in others, particularly in the Poor, as He is in us, we cannot love God without loving our neighbor. However, we have to love the Poor in a very special way: as we love ourselves, no more and no less.
Undoubtedly, the word – or the law - is important, evangelization is important, but faith and love are essential. In the Letter to the Thessalonians of this week, Paul strengthens this concept: "For from you, the Word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Thus, we no longer need to talk, as people themselves tell how you have welcomed us "(verses (8-9).
I will conclude this reflection with a beautiful sentence from St. Augustine: "love and do whatever you want. If you keep silent, it will be with love; if you shout, you will shout with love; if you correct, do it with love; if you forgive, forgive with love. If love is rooted in you, you will only bear fruits of love."