Fr Vincent's reflections on the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
We know the Two Great Commandments, and we want to live by them. So how to we make them a part of our lives when we have difficulty making time for God and for our neighbor?
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30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
Almighty ever-living God,
increase our faith, hope and charity,
and make us love what you command,
so that we may merit what you promise.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is Matthew 22:34-40.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
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.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
The Two Great Commandments! We know them so well, and I believe every one of us wants to obey those commandments as much as possible. Any of us can quickly acknowledge though that this is not so easy to do. Hopefully we don’t give up trying each and every day.
For most of us, even though we have the best of intentions to love God and our neighbor, things happen to create an emotional or mental split within our mind and heart. I love God, but sometimes what He expects of me requires more effort and sacrifice than I believe I can make. Or, I want to love my neighbor, but they do so many things that make them unlovable that I lose my desire to make the effort. I want to obey the Great Commandments, but the effort is beyond my abilities or desires at times. Or, so we tell ourselves.
All too often we look at life as a series of assignments, a check list of things we need to get done. And loving God or my neighbor can be just another assignment. To love God means to pray, to go to church, to be charitable, to do this, to do that. To love my neighbor means to be nice, not to judge, to forgive mistakes, to be helpful. But, there are so many other things on my list of assignments that I can’t always do what God wants or expects, especially when it comes to other people. So the Great Commandments go the way of other yet-to-be-checked items on my to-do list of life.
First of all, the Great Commandments are not merely things to get done. Love of God and love of neighbor are dispositions of the soul, attitudes toward my spiritual and physical life. Holding them as principles to guide my decisions is what makes them great, that is, greater than all the other commandments which might be considered a list of things to do or things to avoid. So, we need to cultivate a mind-set that stays with me day-in and day-out.
To love God means I am constantly thinking about my relationship with God and in state of “mental conversation” with God, which really is prayer. To love God means I seek to be as good to God as He is to me. So I want to spend special time focused on Him in church and elsewhere. I want a regular connection with God and to please Him by my choices. The more I cultivate this mind-set and relationship, the more this Great Commandment moves out of a “things to do” assignment and more into a lifestyle.
To love my neighbor means, likewise, I am thinking about the respect each person deserves as a child of God, regardless of their personal choices or actions. I try to think the best of others and see them as worthy of kindness and considerate behavior from me. I am not “reacting” to others but putting my decision to love them ahead of any response to how they act or behave toward me. Again, an attitude of respect which pre-exists any reactions and controls my thoughts and decisions is that mind-set that makes me a genuine lover of humanity.
When these Two Great Commandments become so much a part of my character that they show themselves without much thought or effort, then they will become effective in those more challenging moments when I need to choose self-control and self-sacrifice for God or neighbor. I might still find myself split between taking care of myself or doing more for another person or for God, but I will more likely make the right decision because it’s not a thing I do, it is the person I am, by the grace of God.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.