What I said so far is obviously a gross exaggeration and not matching our reality. When we reflect about the way we talk and dress, our values and norms, and so on, we realize that much of our so-called individuality is strongly influenced by the wider society and culture. We are to a large degree standardized products of society! The emphasis on individuality and autonomy itself is quite commonplace in our society. This is not surprising because humans are fundamentally social beings. As such we unconsciously and consciously follow shared implicit and explicit rules, which express our values and norms and are the foundation of our society.
These thoughts came to my mind when I was reading today’s text from the book of Deuteronomy. Moses tells God’s people that the Lord commands them to “observe his statutes and decrees with all their heart and with all their soul.” God’s commandments should guide our lives. The core of God’s commandments is to care for widows and orphans – in other words, those in our society who have none to care for them. Jesus, in today’s Gospel even radicalizes God’s commandments. We should not only care for the weak in our society – in other words, those who are close to us. We should also care for those with whom we have little in common, whom we may even utterly detest: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” By doing so, we act as God does, “for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”
Who are those in and beyond our society who need my and our support? Am I willing to make sacrifices as an individual to show my support for them? Am I ready to accept changes in our society that brings happiness to the lives of the disadvantaged?
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