Bulletin: October 25, 2020
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The secret to our Sunday readings lies in today’s Gospel Acclamation: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him” (John 14:23). That single line from John’s Gospel gets right to the heart of today’s readings, reminding us of the intimate relationship between the law (“keeping God’s word”) and God’s love. While human nature tends to resist burdensome rules, our readings show us the wisdom of God’s plan that guides us with the rule of law. In Exodus, the law boldly prevents injustice, protecting the most vulnerable members of society. In Thessalonians, the law elevates our behavior and saves us from “the coming wrath.” In Matthew’s Gospel, the law swaddles us in God’s compassion. In loving God, neighbor, and self, we imitate God and bring blessing to a fractured world.
THE RULE OF LAW
Anyone who has read the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) from beginning to end appreciates the massive influence of the law on our ancestors in faith. In fact, what Christians call the Pentateuch (Greek for “five books”), Jewish tradition calls the Torah (“teaching” or “law”). In the first five books of the Bible, there is no escaping the law, its meticulous detail and relentless regulations, decrees, and pronouncements from God to Moses and Aaron. Also common in these books, alas, are stories of God’s chosen people going astray. The predominance of the law reminds us that we are creatures with a tendency to sin; God provides the law to us beloved children to regulate our behavior and help us live more peacefully on earth.
Laws would be entirely unnecessary if we lived perfect lives. As we know all too well, however, we often fall short of the good intentions that we cherish in our hearts. Perhaps the law would even be unnecessary if we lived alone, isolated from other people. After all, what hermit in a cave actually needs a commandment to charge no interest on a loan? But God’s design for humanity includes togetherness. And when we live together, we tend to step on each other’s toes. Thank God for laws that help us to live in community with justice and compassion.
Underlying every one of God’s laws is an eternal longing for fairness and fullness. What’s more, God’s own self—a vibrant community of Father, Son, and Spirit—reveals the deep joy of living in peace with self and neighbor. The Trinitarian nature of God—three persons in one God—astonishes us with its commitment to fruitful love. Love is gratuitous and lavish, constantly producing and giving of itself. The more generously we love God, self, and neighbor, the more we will know that, as Saint Paul says, “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).