October 25, 2020
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40
People are asked: “What is your favorite…?’ or “Who is the best…?” or “Where is the greatest…?” We are often requested to prioritize life, and this can be difficult. Not for Jesus. In the Gospel, He is asked to name the greatest of the commandments. But this is not asked out of honest interest, or even idle curiosity, but, as St. Matthew tells us, it was asked to test Jesus. And what does He do? Jesus answers this insincere question by quoting some of the most beautiful lines from the book of Deuteronomy, which would have been well known to Jesus’ testers. “You shall love the Lord your God,” He says. But then Jesus adds His own part, completing the commandment by telling us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you think about it, the remarkable thing about these two commandments is that they are actually not two, but really one great commandment. If we truly love God, we will also love our neighbor, and without a love for our neighbor we cannot really love God. God gives us one another so that we can learn how to love, and He gives us the capacity to love in the first place. Jesus shows this to be the way to live in the way He loves his Father deeply and loves the people to whom He has been sent. God is love; and whenever we truly love anyone, we are united with God. So, back to the Pharisees, who were trying to “test” Jesus. They got much more than they bargained for in the answer Jesus gave them. And if they were paying attention, they got something that could change their lives: a vision of love for God and neighbor that springs from the Wisdom of God Himself. Therefore, when we are thinking about what is the “best” or the “most important” things in our life, perhaps we might step back and remember the word “LOVE”, with all its beauty, power, demands and rewards. Jesus gives us a commandment that gives us life. And that will always be the greatest!