Once more this Sunday, as we continue with the excerpts from the Gospel of Matthew, we see that they come to Jesus for the purpose of testing him. They are attempting to find fault in him. They are attempting to find that by which they might discredit him within the community, both the community of occupation, as well as the community of those of the tradition.
And so Jesus responds, not with anything new, but He responds with what had been given them in the book of Deuteronomy law, as it had been presented by God to them in the covenant. Love, God, love neighbor. And certainly one of the things that we know, especially as it’s presented in one of the other gospels, is the idea that neighbor has always been a very controversial topic.
Who is my neighbor? Well, what is interesting in the process of scripture, in the process of Revelation, is that that question gets answered over and over again. You heard an answer in the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, probably somewhere in the 600 B.C. period. And Isaiah offers the insight that the neighbor is the widow, the orphan and the alien, and basically says, the reason I point this out to you is because you were once in that category in Isaiah calling us to memory the memory of who we are and the fact that we really are no different from anyone else, but we are all inheritors of the gifts that were passed on to us
from previous times. We didn’t earn them. They were made available to us. And what Isaiah is saying is when you remember that, then you have great compassion for those who are alongside you and you see how that fits in. Then with these two commandments. This morning, His Holiness, Pope Francis celebrated the concluding mass, or the first phase of the Senate on Senate balloting.
They have completed the work of October, in a sense. Now, the process will be to take what is gleaned from those experiences and to formulate them in such a way that they will become the agenda for the meeting of the bishops next October. But he did a very interesting thing at the mass because they used he used the scriptures, the scriptures of the church for this Sunday, and he said, you know, we can get all crazy about all of these other things, what color vestments we wear, what language we use, but this, that and the other thing, whether we stand facing you or facing the wall, none of that is really important.
Let me sum up in two words the entire fundamental value of our faith adore God and serve one another. And his point was that if you truly are engaged in adoring God, then in effect, the way you manifest that adoration other than basically placing yourself in the presence of the Almighty God, who is a mystery in a sense, is always beyond our comprehension.
And so in a sense, our adoration is a marvel of the mystery of God ever being present to us, not by our doing, but by God’s love of us. How do we manifest that law of prayer? But you said the other way we manifest it is by adopting the ways of God in our life. We are those love neighbor.
And I think that if you want to know why they were forever testing Jesus, it was because he lived that life. He manifested the ways of God in you sense. He said you have had the word of God.
All of these years, all of this centuries. And let me show you concretely by example what the Word of God is all about. The Word of God is certainly about acknowledging our relationship with God, our dependance on God, that we are literally the fruit of God’s work. But the way that we show that is how we care for those around us.
Interesting thing is that there’s a little phrase in there that we don’t often pay attention to. He says, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Part of the reason that can’t love others is because, sadly, we don’t love ourselves. How often do we take care of ourselves? How often do we prioritize our time? Isn’t our time and attention often absorbed by those things outside of us rather than by our own needs or the need of those with whom we share life.
A companion, our partner, or the children that we’ve been invested with. Love your neighbor as yourself. Sense what is summarized in this brief passage of Scripture is a path. A path that offers us an opportunity. Live the way of God in our life and in so doing, open up new doors not only for ourselves, but for others, and literally then have the skills, the tools with which to gather under the inspiration and guidance of Almighty God.
We can build a better world. We’re all do not feel the violence that we saw up in Maine earlier this week or the violence we’re seeing in the Holy Land at this point. But the violence that we’re seeing in the Ukraine or the violence we’re seeing in many, many parts of the world, those being very visible. But the violence we see in our own streets as we look perhaps with downcast eyes of the migrants, those who have come here seeking a better life.
Downcast eyes we have on the poor because we say they’re unworthy, they’re unwilling to work to make their way sense. What the Scripture is calling us to a new vision, a new vision of life based upon the law of God. Let us pray that God will give us the courage and the strength to walk in God’s ways.