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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
1st Reading (Exod 22:20-26): Thus says the Lord: «You shall not molest or oppress an alien, 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. 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».
Responsorial Psalm: 17
R/. I love you, Lord, my strength.
I love you, o Lord, my strength, o Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.

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.

The Lord lives and blessed be my rock! Extolled be God my savior. You who gave great victories to your king and showed kindness to your anointed.
2nd Reading (1Thess 1:5c-10): 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, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia 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 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.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 14:23): Alleluia. Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 22:34-40): When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, 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?" 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."

"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart… You shall love your neighbor as yourself”

Fr. Johannes VILAR (Köln, Germany)

Today, the Church reminds us of our “attitude before life”: “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments" (Mt 22:40). St. Matthew and St. Mark put these words upon Jesus Christ's lips, while St. Luke ascribes them to a Pharisee. Regardless, they always appear in the context of a dialogue. Jesus Christ had probably been asked similar questions several times. Jesus Christ replies with the beginning of the Shema, the prayer formed by two verses from Deuteronomy and one from the Book of Numbers, which fervent Jews had to say at least twice a day: “Hear O Israel! The Eternal, our God…”. By reciting it during their daily chores, they become God-conscious, while remembering the most important thing in their lives: To love God, our Lord, above “everything and everyone” and our neighbor as ourselves. Afterwards, when the Last Supper was over, with the example of the washing of the feet, Jesus Christ gave us a “new commandment”: to love each other as He loves us, with “divine strength”.

We need determination to put into practice this sweet commandment —which, more than a commandment, brings fulfillment and joy— in dealing with others: all people and things, work and leisure, spirit and matter, because they all are God's creatures.

On the other hand, by being infused with God's Love, which overfills all our being, we are able to respond in a “divine manner” to this Love. Merciful God, who not only takes away the sin of the world (cf. Jn 1:29), but who divinizes us and makes us “participants” in the Divine Nature (only Jesus is the Son by Nature); the Holy Spirit bears testimony to our human spirit that we are children of God through the Son. St. Josemaria Escriva liked to speak of “deification”, a word with a certain tradition amongst the Fathers of the Church. For Instance, St. Basil the Great wrote: “Just as when a sunbeam falls on bright and transparent bodies, they themselves become brilliant too, and shed forth a fresh brightness from themselves, so souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others. Hence comes... heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, the being made God.” Let us truly hope so!

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “There will never be another God, Trypho, and there has been no other since the world began… than he who made and ordered the universe. We do not think that our God is different from yours. He is the same who brought your fathers out of Egypt” (San Justin)

  • "Today, more than ever, worship is necessary! Perhaps one of the greatest perversions of our time is that we are encouraged to worship the human while setting aside the divine. 'You shall worship the Lord your God alone' is the great challenge in the face of so many proposals of emptiness and void." (Francis)

  • “… The first word contains the first commandment of the Law: "You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him.... You shall not go after other gods." God's first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n 2084)