August 19, 2022
by Tamora Whitney
Creighton University's English Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 423

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Matthew 22:34-40

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Rediscovering the Corporal Works of Mercy

In the Gospel today the Pharisees ask Jesus what is the greatest commandment. It’s surely a test trying to slip him up, get him to say something they can criticize or prosecute. Maybe their point is that all the commandments are important. But what Jesus does is perfect and logical and simple. He says the first commandment is to love God above anything else. That’s the greatest commandment, and it would include following God’s commandments. If you love God you will not have false gods or idols, you will keep God’s day holy, and won’t take the Lord’s name in vain. In essence, all sin is putting something before God, giving anything more importance than God in our lives. So if everyone just did this one commandment, put God before anything else, all the other commandments would be moot.

But then he adds that the second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. If you love your neighbors you will not harm them. If you love your neighbors you won’t kill them, or steal from them or try to cheat them or lie to them. If you love your parents you will honor them and treat them well. If you treat others fairly and decently, the way you yourself would want to be treated by others, you will live in harmony, as God intended.

He says the whole law depends on these two commandments. Put God first, and treat all others fairly and decently. How great would our world be if people actually did this? No crime, no discrimination, no greed. I don’t even understand how some people can be so cruel, so selfish, advancing their own interests even at the expense of others. But that is not how it is supposed to be. If people would love God and each other, that’s all we need.

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