For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102917.cfm
In the Gospels, the Scribes and Pharisees, as well as the Sadducees, often were at odds with Jesus. In our Gospel this Sunday the Pharisees sent one of their members, a scholar of the law, to ask Jesus which was the greatest of the commandments. Now this would not have been an unusual question. It is estimated that there were over 600 precepts/commands in the Torah. Asking a “Rabbi” to put some rank and/or order to them would have been within the confines of a legitimate question.
Scholars suggest that Jesus’ response to the question, his linking of love of neighbor with love of God would not have come as a surprise. They were both found in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18). What would have been unexpected, however, was the fact that Jesus put these commandments (love of God and love of neighbor) on par with each other. For Jesus love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand and in the words of an old song: “You can’t have one without the other.”
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus’ response to the question about the greatest commandment prompts the follow up question “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded to that question with the story of the Good Samaritan. Since the story of the Good Samaritan is not found in Matthew’s Gospel, (where today’s Gospel is taken) we need to look to the first reading for Sunday for an insight into whom our neighbor is. That reading, from the book of Exodus, tells us that our neighbor is the alien, the widow, the orphan, the poor, the person in need.
Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. In the section we read today Paul compliments the Thessalonians because they have become "imitators of the Lord, and his fellow missionaries."
Thoughts for Consideration/Reflection:
- What “neighbor” do you find difficult to love?
- I have a friend who says the reason we have difficulty loving our neighbor as ourselves is that we don’t love ourselves very well. What do you think?
- Who comes to mind as someone you would name as an imitator of the Lord?