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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, October 23, 2011:

First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18

First Reading (Semi-cont.): Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Psalm: Psalm 1

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Gospel: Matthew 22:34-46

The Gospel this week finds Jesus being tested again with trick questions. This week a lawyer demands that Jesus tell which commandment is greatest. And Jesus sums up the whole Bible by saying that the most important thing we are required to do is to love God completely, and secondly, to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Of course, this presupposes that we're good at loving ourselves, and we live in an age where this is increasingly not the case. We don't take time to exercise or eat the right foods, and most of us are sleep deprived. We're depressed about the way our lives are progressing, and instead of changing our lives, we self-medicate in a variety of ways or use other destructive methods of forgetting our sorrows. We wish we had more time for our friends and families, but we take on extra work to buy them more stuff--or worse, we take on extra work so that we can keep the job we have and worry desperately about losing.

How would your life change if you really did put God first? If God's priorities became your priorities? You'd take better care of yourself so that you could do the work and play that God requires.

And how would your life change if you responded with love, not just once a day, but throughout the day? And not just to people with whom you've made an investment, but with complete strangers? Or with people you don't really like, but you're forced to live with (like your co-workers, your child's school, your neighbors)

In this year of multiple natural disasters, I'm struck by how kind and loving we can be when facing such disasters. What would it take to show that care and commitment all the time? You might protest that you'd just be too exhausted, too depleted to do all that love and caring--and remember, that love should translate into action, and who has that kind of time?

But God requires it--and when we replenish the world with our love, we find ourselves replenished. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand--if you're willing to do the work (which might often feel like play) to make it possible on earth.

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