29 October 2017
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the sons of Israel this:
‘“You must not molest the stranger or oppress him, for you lived as strangers in the land of Egypt. You must not be harsh with the widow, or with the orphan; if you are harsh with them, they will surely cry out to me, and be sure I shall hear their cry; my anger will flare and I shall kill you with the sword, your own wives will be widows, your own children orphans.
‘“If you lend money to any of my people, to any poor man among you, you must not play the usurer with him: you must not demand interest from him.
‘“If you take another’s cloak as a pledge, you must give it back to him before sunset. It is all the covering he has; it is the cloak he wraps his body in; what else would he sleep in? If he cries to me, I will listen, for I am full of pity.”’
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
You observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, and you were led to become imitators of us, and of the Lord; and it was with the joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the gospel, in spite of the great opposition all round you. This has made you the great example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”
As with the Gospel from the previous week, we read again how Jesus was once again being put to the test. We see how there’s a special connotation when we use the word ‘test’. Sometimes, we simply just want to push our boundaries and make life difficult for others even when the result or outcome may not even be applicable or affect us. Sometimes, we just want to prove people wrong and try to make our lives/rules or, in this context, the commandments, easier to follow.
Sometimes we even make ‘bets’ with God, “If you help me to get through this, I will do something for you”, or “If I’m able to witness a miracle, I’ll convert”, or “If you are real God, ….” and much more.
For me, how I ‘test’ God is, even though I am aware of the sin I’ll be committing, I still choose to willingly commit it, thinking that God will still forgive me after I’ve gone for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
But at the end of the day, Jesus makes it clear that it isn’t about keeping every one of the commandments. For even more than that, for the commandments to be kept, we must first “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” and “love your neighbour as yourself”. We see how, in the New Testament, Jesus helps us to summarise the 10 Commandments into these two simple commandments. The key word being LOVE.
Why is there so much emphasis then on LOVE? To do things with great love, to love our enemies, to look out for the last, the lost and the least. And I guess, deep down, it is because we all want and desire to be loved, not for what we can offer or how we look, but because of who we are.
Should this be what we desire, then this is what we should also give/share with all. God has given us His greatest love in the form of Jesus — where He gave Himself to us, in order that we may all be saved. And in that LOVE, FREEDOM as well, to sometimes choose to go against Him.
We give because we have already been given, we love because we are first loved by Him. Let us treasure this FREEDOM that we are given, not to ‘test’ God, but to allow His face and His glory to shine through all of us, onto everyone around us as we too make a gift of ourselves, so that all may experience His love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the grace to love. To love without condition. To love as you love. To do your will and build your kingdom here on earth, in our homes and in our hearts. Let all that we do be done in love, with love, to love and for love. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your love. For giving us this freedom. For being patient and understanding in our journey towards holiness. Thank you for the many graces and blessings that you have already bestowed upon us.