Monday, October 17, 2011

Gospel Text for Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Matthew 22:34-46 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "`You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: "What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He said to them, "How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,

`The Lord said to my Lord,
"Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet"'?

If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.


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  2. Jesus' answer about the two great commandments is familiar and gives me a secure foundation for understanding and applying Scriptures that sometimes baffle or trouble me. However, recently I heard something new – to me – in the second “Great Commandment.” I heard, “as yourself,” not meaning, “because he/she is like you,” not, “because she/he is as good as you, or makes mistakes like you do;” not as meaning I should love my neighbor as much as I love myself.” I heard it saying I shall love my neighbor because my neighbor is me; because I am my neighbor; we are one. I felt myself bound to my neighbor and my neighbor to me, and that the only way to live is in love. True loving of myself includes loving my neighbor. Loving my neighbor includes acknowledging this neighbor in myself and myself in this neighbor. Any feeling of not-loving, any expression of non-love of my neighbor is a denial of myself, of the larger self that I am, of the I-in-community that is me.

    And, you know, it is easier this way. It is easier to feel, think and express love of my neighbor-as-myself than it was to try and be loving to a neighbor whom I identified primarily by the way he/she is different from me.

    Neighbor, I love you. I love you because we are.

  3. The disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians have repeatedly plotted to entrap Jesus and now someone comes to him with the question , “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” And this question actually makes sense. After all, if I were a Jew 2000 years ago and trying desperately (and more than likely failing) to keep the 613 “laws” in Torah, I too would want to know which was the most important law. It could have been hand washing or bathing or not working on the Sabbath… but no. It’s love. Love trumps all.

    Love God and love my neighbor; this could be more difficult that keeping the 613 Torah laws. Loving God means remembering that everything belongs to God. And if everything belongs to God then everything is sacred. And if everything is sacred then I must treat everything as sacred, which unfortunately includes my irksome neighbor and his annoying dog. Oh dear. I do not love God if I do not love my neighbor and do not make room in my heart to nod and smile at his grumbles and his dog that enjoys using my lawn as his toilet. Help me Jesus to love my neighbor, his dog and You.

    And – after writing this I read Dave’s comment. Thank you Dave…. It helps me to love my neighbor remembering we are the One Presence in particularity. We are One love.