Scripture Reflection, October 29, 2023, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 22:20-26 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10 Matthew 22:34-40
Today we may note, once again, how much Paul appreciated the Christian community at Thessalonica. He was so proud of the way the Thessalonians received the message of Christ - crucified and risen - and how they embraced that message and used it as a basis for living lives of honor and faithfulness. I can only imagine that he, and the others who traveled with him to a number of the countries that he evangelized, must have wished that all those lands had the gifts of faith and determination that so many in Thessalonica possessed. The Thessalonians also seemed to have the courage and zeal to be willing to give up worship of false idols and change old ways of behavior they had been practicing for many years - some for all of their lives. This couldn’t have been easy for them. Which goes to show that when one is filled with the power and the conviction of The Holy Spirit - all things are possible!
This dovetails nicely with the message we receive in the first reading (Exodus) and the Gospel (Matthew). That message embraces the values of love and justice. God challenges us, as present day disciples, to respect - not oppress - aliens; and to treat with compassion - not to wrong - widows and orphans. The Lord ends the Exodus passage with a powerful clause that readers of the Hebrew Scriptures sometimes overlook. God proclaims: “…I am compassionate.” And Jesus reminds us, in the gospel, that the two greatest commandments are ALL ABOUT LOVE. This reminds me of the wonderful song written over 50 years ago by renowned songwriter Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David: ”What the World Needs Now Is Love”. To some, this may sound like naive thinking; but I suggest that it (loving God, others and self) really could work if people everywhere were willing to commit to practicing it. Shall we start…and see who is ready to follow?
by: Bill Miller