30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 29th October, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

 


As always, Jesus is straight forward and complete in his answer to the Pharisees. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment.

What about today’s cynics or non-believers? What is their answer to the same question? Ask a politician what he thinks is the first purpose of Christian Faith. You may well get the answer – ‘Well, doesn’t your Jesus teach that you have an obligation to look after the poor and the needy! And you Christians have been doing a quite satisfactory job in that regard over the past years. You are entitled to a pat on the back for the hospitals, aged care places, Vinnies and similar acts of charity that you have set up and run. That must be the right answer.’

The problem is that this approach is not in accordance with what Jesus reminded the Pharisees – and, no doubt, us too – as to what the true priority is. St Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, famous for her love of Jesus, was asked by her sister to confide in her the secrets that Jesus had revealed to her. She said this: “I feel it is impossible for the human tongue to express things that the human heart can hardly understand”. This seems to me to be, in some way, the import of what Jesus wants us to achieve in our relationship to God.

St Therese went on to say: “See, then, all that Jesus lays claim to from us. He has no need of our works but only of our love, for the same God who declares He has no need to tell us when He is hungry did not fear to beg for a little water from the Samaritan woman. He was thirsty. But when he said: “Give me to drink” it was the love of his poor creature that the Lord of the universe was seeking. He was thirsty for love.

 

 

Of course Jesus places the second commandment as being like the first. We know that Jesus’ whole public life on earth was devoted to showing us what love of neighbour means. So our politician observer is close to the truth in his remarks. But we should not forget that the great Cathedrals like St Peter’s in Rome, or Notre Dame in Paris, even our own St Mary’s in Sydney, and the treasures of Michelangelo, Fra Angelico and even Sr Mary Brady OP, did not arise from considerations of the poor and needy but from the great commandment itself.

Kevin Walker