A devout Jew begins each day with a recitation of the words Jesus used in answering the question the Pharisees put to him as to which of the hundreds of commandments they were supposed to obey was the greatest. You shall love The Lord your God with your whole mind, heart and soul. Without God in the centre of the picture the picture will never be in correct perspective or in focus. Having said that Jesus added words that are also found in the Jewish bible “you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Our response to God’s love for us is completed in the way we seek the well-being of our neighbour and ourselves.
From the parable of the Good Samaritan we know that our neighbour is anyone in need whom we come close to. Neighbours are not just the people who live nearby. We are neighbour to those to whom we show mercy and compassion.
I have spoken before of how odd it seems to make loving God, neighbour and self a commandment. We often see love as an outside force like a wave in the surf or a strong wind that moves us without our cooperation. We are not conditioned to see love as something we can turn on and off, something that we can control. But if we are to make sense of Jesus making love a command as he does here but also in other places when he commands us to love even our enemies, love has to be something that is under our control.
We live then as missionary disciples (to quote the words of Pope Francis) obeying a command to love, not a suggestion, but a command. I have been driving the highways of Canada in the past few days and speed signs seem to be treated as suggestions given the universal non-observance. I was outside Ottawa when the shooting happened in the city centre at their Parliament building.
The command is fleshed out in today’s first reading from the book of Exodus. This book records the liberation of the people from slavery in Egypt and how they are to use the memory of that experience in how they treat strangers, widows, orphans. To be the disciples God wants us to be we keep fresh in our minds how we have been treated generously by God, liberated in this way or that from forces that would harm us and then share that same mercy and compassion with everyone we meet.
Love in the way of Jesus is something we control. We can turn it on and off. May we open our eyes each day this week and with imagination and joy turn His loving on and creatively respond to the needs of those around us in the way the Good Samaritan did.
Fr Adrian Farrelly
|Oct 28, 2014||30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 26.10.2014||Listen||Download|