Sunday, October 29, 2023
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Gospel Mt 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall 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 is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Theological Chicken & the Egg!
Upon Reflection: When I was a child, the word "God" was the name I used to refer to a super-mommy or a super-daddy. The image I had was that of a protector, someone watching over me, keeping me and my family safe. And so God was good, but though unaware, there was more to God.
When I was a teenager, the word "God" was the name I used to refer to a supreme being - the top being of all beings - the one in charge of heaven. This being for me was a compensatory being, meaning that I could flee to God when I needed because God was always available, but not necessarily present here and now - always "just a phone call away." And so God was good, but though unaware, there was more to God.
When I was a young adult in college, the word "God" was the name I used to refer to an illusive puppet master. This Wizard of Oz God certainly gave the impression of being in control, but for some reason, God didn't want anyone to get a good clear look at his or her face. At this time in my life, being exposed to so many other images of God from other people (even the image of nothing, ie. there is no God), I did begin to question whether or not this God really was in control. I tried searching through all the images presented to me in order to find the "right" one. Through all of this, I still knew that God was good, but for the first time, I became aware that there was more to God.
When I crossed that very nebulous line between young adulthood and adulthood, the word "God" (much to my amazement) grew into the name of a relationship. Years of experience, years of service, years of education and years of contemplation have gently led me down a path where I feel like I finally understand what Jesus means in today's Gospel.
Everything that the law and the prophets describe about God in the Jewish scriptures is summed up in the understanding that to love (give oneself to) God IS to love (give oneself to) neighbor! And to love one's neighbor IS to love God! In other words, Jesus (and consequently the Christian tradition) claims that God is not the object of our love, rather God is the experience of love itself. Whenever we experience true self-giving love with our neighbor we are in fact experiencing God.
And so God is still good, but dang it, I know that there is still a lot more to God!