October 25: 30th Sunday of the Year. Readings: 1. Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm: 18; 2. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40.
Love of God and love of neighbour go hand in hand with each other in this set of Sunday readings.
The Exodus passage spells out in some detail what is demanded of God’s people in their relationships with others. The neighbour who is the necessary target of a person’s love is defined in rather broad terms, perhaps even somewhat surprising. A number of scenarios are supplied, suggesting how this love is to be practised as, for example, in caring for the widow or orphan. This is obviously meant to be a generous love, one that does not seek personal gain or weigh up advantages.
As we hear in the second reading, Paul’s relationship with the Thessalonians is manifestly one of warmth and apostolic concern for their spiritual welfare. By acknowledging the powerful presence of the Word of God in their lives, Paul confirms them in all their efforts to be faithful Christians. He is, we note, particularly sensitive to their needs as they await the Lord’s return. And so we easily discern in his words a genuine love for the Thessalonians.
Again, in the view presented this Sunday, Matthew continues to portray the Pharisees as a party intent upon finding something bad that they can use against Jesus. It is another trick question that seems to offer them a golden opportunity to firm up their opposition to Jesus. In answer to their question about which is the greatest commandment, he makes love for God and neighbour two essentially interrelated ways of being religiously oriented.
Noting what each of today’s biblical authors offers for our reflection, no one could ignore the call of their texts. In short, they are calling us all to be diligent witnesses to that special form of love that marks us out as children of God.