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10/29/17 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

In today’s readings, we’re reminded that there are real love and other ideas of love that pale in comparison. The best measure of love is how we treat others, including God.

In today’s First Reading the Lord reminds us not the mistreat the disadvantaged, or we’ll soon be one of them. Woe to the Israelite who forgot that he was once a foreigner abused and mistreated in Egypt and decided to treat a foreigner in the Promised Land in the same way. Widows and orphans were especially weak and helpless in the times of the Old Testament. Mistreating them was equivalent to kicking someone when they were down. Making a living was so precarious that charging interest in a loan was a sin called usury: people had no money to spare, and not many had a surplus of possessions to loan either.

In today’s Second Reading St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that he imitated the Lord and taught them to do the same. They were such good disciples that they became a model of belief for the entire region. St. Paul starts some his letters chiding his listeners and pointing out their flaws in imitating the Lord and sharing his word. He not only gives them an A+ but tells them their listeners gave them an A+ too.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds the Pharisees, and us, that if we truly want to understand the ways and desires of God we need to see things through the lens of love. Love for God and love for neighbor are intimately linked, which is why extremists of any religion who claim to harm their neighbor in the name of God are about as far from the truth as can be imagined. Some people try to project themselves on God and paint him as aloof, distant, cruel, or self-absorbed. Others in the face of suffering and evil question whether God loves us at all, or why he would allow bad things to happen. If we want to understand who God is truly, we must look at him from the perspective of love and imitate him in his love for us. If we contemplate God on the Cross, the Son nailed to the Cross, depicted on every crucifix, wounded out of love for us, as Christians we need no further answer. God loved us so much that he sent his son to save the world, and his son saved the world through submitting to the worst cruelty that evil and sin could inflict: injustice, torture, and death. He subjected himself to that out of love for us. He doesn’t throw that in our face: he is silent on the cross, but he speaks volumes to our hearts: he doesn’t say, “how dare you,” but “I love you.”

Mary Beth Bonacci in her book Real Love described two meanings for saying you “love” (source). What do you mean when you say you love your parents? Hopefully that you care about them, love spending time with them, would help them in every humanly possible way, and would always want what’s best for them. What do you mean when you say you love pizza? Can you care deeply for pizza or have a special relationship with it, or help it in every humanly possible way? No, hopefully, you mean that you enjoy eating pizza until you don’t want anymore. When you’re tired of it, you throw it away or forget about it. When people today talk about loving each other, believe it or not, they can have either of those two meaning of love in mind. Some people when they say “I love you” are saying that they’ll enjoy you until they don’t, and think everyone feels the same way. If someone says they love you, ask them if they love you like they love pizza, or love you in a much deeper way.

Let’s try to see things through the lens of charity today to grow in love for God and love for others. That means caring about God and others. Spending time with God and with others. Helping God and others in every human way possible. Always wanting what’s best for God and others.

 

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