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Youth Ministry Resources - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matthew 22:34-40 - The greatest commandment - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Yet 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 people?

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 God… [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.

The 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 love.

Cate Mapstone

Luke 18:9-14 - The Pharisee and the Tax Collector - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus 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.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time