25 Aug – Memorial for St. Louis of France, Memorial for St. Joseph Calasanz, priest, religious founder
The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, Mortal, can these bones live? I answered, O Lord GOD, you know. Then he said to me, Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
When the Pharisees heard that he 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 neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
One thing struck me with the Gospel passage this time round. The Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees. After reading a bit about the Sadducees, I realized that the Sadducees and the Pharisees were sort-of rebel groups because they believed in different things. The Sadducees did not believe in the immortality of the soul, in angels or in the spirit, while the Pharisees did. So, what’s the point about this? Well, if someone has an opponent, and that someone heard ones opponent had just been ridiculed by a person, one might want to add on to that shame by claiming that one was not ridiculed by that person. So, maybe it wasn’t because the Pharisees wanted to test him only, but also to add salt to the Sadducees wound.
Why is it also that a lawyer asked Jesus the question? It is the common belief (if it is not, I’m sorry.. it might just be something I heard from a movie..) that many lawyers job is to find a loophole in the judiciary system. And at that time, it would be to find a loophole in the Jewish laws. So, it would be quite normal that the best person to try to get one over Jesus is a lawyer (again, my apologies to all the lawyers out there..). But that was not to be. Jesus IS the one who knows the laws and who lives them. And by knowing the laws, he knows that the laws were made out of love, and not to restrain the people. And this is why the Pharisees too were silenced. Those two commandments are the greatest and all the other laws come from these two, for if you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself, you will never do anything to injure or hurt them. And you will never desire something that is theirs, and God will be your One and Only. Yet, the Pharisees thought of the laws as they were: set rigidly to keep the people in check, which is far from what it was meant to do.
Now, what about the laws in our own world? There are too many to name, but from last weeks Strait Times, it was said Singapore was turning into a Garbage City. There are fines and such against littering in Singapore, but people still do. People say Singapore is a fine city. But maybe we should try to think about it in the other way. The laws are not meant to restrict people from doing things, but rather as a sign of love for others. Like what one of the cleaners was saying, how can it be that people litter outside their houses when they keep their own houses clean? If we were all a bit more loving towards our neighbours, we would try to make their lives better. In the case of littering, first would be to reduce the discomfort of all other people walking in those areas, second would be to reduce the work of those cleaning aunties and uncles, and third would be to save money instead of spending money on picking up all the garbage, it could be invested in other more important areas (as mentioned in the paper). It might sound a bit idealistic, but we never know, it might really be true. Its not really easy to think of it that way, but if we sometimes did, maybe we would see wonderful changes. So, can we?
We pray for the grace to see everything done for love and with love as its purpose.
Thanks be to God for laws made out of love for each other.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Lyndley Ah Qune)
Prayer: We pray that we will truly understand the spirit of our laws instead of inflexibly dwelling only on the letters.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: All who uphold and maintain justice and righteousness in our societies.
Sat, 26 Aug – Ezekiel 43:1-7a; Matthew 24:1-12
Sun, 27 Aug – Joshua 24:1-2a; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69; Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mon, 28 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11b-12; Matthew 23:13-22; Memorial for St. Augustine, bishop, doctor
Tue, 29 Aug – 1 Jeremiah 1:17-19; Mark 6:17-29; Feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Wed, 30 Aug – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Matthew 23:27-32
Thu, 31 Aug – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51
Fri, 1 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; Matthew 25:1-13
Sat, 2 Sep – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 25:14-30
Sun, 3 Sep – Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.