Resources - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A: Matthew
22:34-40 - The greatest commandment - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
again, we see the Pharisees putting Jesus to another test, this time about the
Torah and the importance of the Law. Their question asks Jesus for a summary of
Israel's Law, its centre or core teaching. The breadth of the question is realised
when you are aware that there were 613 commandments and 365 prohibitions - one
for each day of the year and 268 prescriptions - one for each bone in the body.
So you can see that it was possible to have some part of the Law dictating your
every move. Is it any wonder that keeping the Law became a burden for so many
The wisdom of Jesus is astounding because he knows
all of the commandments, prohibitions and prescriptions and yet can see beyond
their fragmentation and pettiness to see the greatest commandment is at the centre
of the Covenant with God. To describe love as"Covenant fidelity" the
Jewish people understood "heart" to mean will or mind, "soul"
to mean life and "strength" to mean wealth. So Jesus is speaking of
one's whole being and life energy being directed into "love the Lord your
[and] you must love your neighbour as yourself." Jesus saw the
Law as a unified whole because it was based in the Covenant with God and that
Covenant came into being because of God's love and so love becomes the principle
or decisive factor and the key for interpreting all its requirements.
challenge comes also when we are asked to live out that love Covenant through
our interaction with our neighbour. We are asked to love those whom God loves
and that group is much wider than the people we like or those we find easy to
love. We know so much more today about the hardships suffered by our 'neighbour'
across the world and despite the wealth of our Australian society there are many
vulnerable and struggling people, particularly our Indigenous people, and we are
asked to respond with love.
Have you considered what it
would be like to be young and black in Australia? It is worth contemplating where
you would be now if you came from a remote Aboriginal mission. Statistics show
that these 'neighbours' are grossly underprivileged and yet we do not hear cries
across this nation for solutions to these problems and insistence on real reconciliation.
No, too many of us are too comfortable and so we give token efforts to Caritas,
the Missions or other appeals for help. Jesus shows us the greatest love possible,
he doesn't expect us to be crucified but he is asking us to live lives based on
18:9-14 - The Pharisee and the Tax Collector - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
is speaking this parable "to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous
and despised everyone else." Jesus is also speaking this parable to his disciples
and to you and me. While we may not be Pharisees or Tax Collectors, the challenge
is to our attitude rather than our role. Pharisees frequently get bad press in
the Scriptures and this is not to say that all Pharisees were bad. They were a
party who were centred on the strict observance of the Law and they interpreted
the obligations of the Law in the most severe manner. There are modern "Pharisees"
who can quote any number of 'laws' and their inclusion of every letter of the
law is usually to the exclusion of God and God's Spirit in the law. The Pharisee
also represents those of us who can only bolster our own self-image by cutting
down those around us.
So this parable is about our overall
attitude. The Pharisee is telling God how wonderful he (the Pharisee) is, there
is no praise for God, and it is all self-praise. The Pharisee does not need God's
free gift of love and justification as the Pharisee has justified himself. The
Tax Collector has recognised his need for God's mercy beats his breast as a sign
of repentance and asks for God's help. So how are we measuring up? Honestly! Many
of us are at Mass frequently; during the Penitential Rite we ask for God's mercy,
some of us beat our breast (from habit or from recognition of our sinfulness?)
Most of us messed something up during the past week and at the beginning of Mass
it is a good time to recognise that we need God's mercy and help to get it 'a
bit more right' in the coming week.
We listen to God's
Word and respond 'thanks be to God.' We receive the Body and Blood of Christ and
become what we have received. Our week must be better if we have been open to
God throughout Mass. If we have been sitting through Mass and deciding that we
are pretty good, unlike our neighbours who are still in bed or who are out having
a good time, then we have missed the whole point. If we think we are better than
those people who wander the streets or who feel they have no choice but to be
involved in a less desirable job then we do not understand what it means to be
a child of God.
Ministry Resources 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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