October 25, 2020
by Larry Hopp
Creighton University's Retried Community
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 148

Exodus 22:20-26
Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Matthew 22:34-40

Praying Ordinary Time

Our amazing God has once again put together a set of Biblical texts for today which address precisely what we as His people need to hear.  This message speaks directly to our current frustrations and perhaps even to our fears and hopelessness.  It challenges us to step back and view our world as God sees it and then to respond as he would respond.

In the 22nd chapter of Exodus, God spends considerable time reviewing how it is that we are to live our lives.  The Jewish people had been going through incredible hardships in Egypt and the Lord was now providing deliverance for them.  As they left Egypt, however, their troubles did not all of a sudden come to an end.  There continued to be challenges, each of which  resulted  in many losing their focus upon God and His many blessings.  Their focus turned into themselves, complaining about how unfair their circumstances seemed to be.   With Covid and everything else that we are encountering today, it certainly seems that we have much in common with those Israelites.

So how did God choose to respond?  He simply, patiently reminded them how they should be living their lives – by FOCUSING on the needs of others.  Those others included aliens (perhaps that might translate to those in our lives with differing viewpoints), those facing crises (today that would include both medically and financially),  and those with basic food, clothing, and shelter needs.  God reminds them (and us) that He hears the cries of those in need and that there are consequences if we fail to show compassion.

Should we question our ability to respond with love and compassion when we ourselves might be facing similar challenges, the Responsorial Psalm reminds us from where our strength is derived – our Lord who is our ROCK,  our DELIVERER, our STRENGTH.  The Alleluia goes on to promise that if we keep the Lord’s word, then the Father will love us and will come to us – we will never be alone as we seek to follow Jesus.

The Second Reading further reinforces this calling to “serve the living and true God”.  There were many people with differing viewpoints living in the bustling city of Thessalonica.  Living out God’s calling in that city was certainly a challenge for Paul.  He actually was forced to flee to the nearby city of Berea.  The point for us, however, was that even in difficult times, following Jesus’ example of focusing on others will produce positive results.  Of course this serves as an effective model for all believers.  Allowing our faith in God to keep us focused on others will allow us to make a profound impact for God.

Jesus put an exclamation on this thread in the Gospel found in Matthew.  While He responded to the Pharisees’ question that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, Jesus went on to emphasize the second commandment that “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”.  He also noted that “the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”    All those in each of our lives represent the “neighbors” that Jesus was talking about.  The simple truth is that we have a holy obligation to respond with love and compassion to those God has placed in our lives. 

Dear Heavenly Father,  Your truth is so clearly revealed to us throughout Your Holy Word.  As we seek to live out our lives for You, help us to stay focused upon You - first and foremost - and then to use your love and compassion as the example for us to maintain a singular focus upon the needs of others.     
In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

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