Reflections - October 29, 2017

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…..The second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 
Mt. 22:37-38.
 
The first reading in Exodus tells us of a God who loves unconditionally and defends the poor, the orphan, and the widow.  Of course, this is in the context of the Old Testament before the love of God made flesh, Jesus, our Savior, came.
 
We also find in the book of Exodus a phrase that can make us all reflect:  “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.”.  The Lord speaks to our conscience about the serious problems of those displaced by tyrannies, wars, hunger, human trafficking because of the prevailing corruption in many countries.  In these situations, unfortunately, those who most suffer are the poor, however, “the God rich in mercy is our lawyer” and asks us for compassion and mercy.
 
There is a second group, “the orphan and the widow”.  For the people of Israel, the Law of Moses protected them because they were the most vulnerable.  The widow was seen helpless to remain alone in a patriarchal culture.  In the Gospel we find a compassionate Jesus towards the suffering of the widow, ex. The widow of Naim….This text from Exodus presents to us a God who defends the homeless, as someone said to me:  “the invisible amongst us who are not counted on in society”.
Yet, everybody counts to our Lord and He invites us to respect the dignity of every person, images of God.
 
In the Gospel we find a group of Pharisees who come to test Jesus and say to him:  “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  Jesus answers:  “to love God and your neighbor as yourself”.  To love God for Jesus “is to have God as the most absolute value in our lives”, this means, with the grace of God, to free ourselves from our selfishness.
 
The authentically Christian love is one and it is not divided.  This example is given to us in the lives of the Saints, the feast we celebrate this week.   Saints were men and women who were able to see the face of Jesus “in those marginalized in society like the elderly, widows, etc….”.  Where others said:  “We cannot”, they carried the cross and loved unconditionally “with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind and loved their neighbor as they loved themselves”, with heroic humility.  Their faith in God reflected an unconditional justice to not only help those less fortunate, but to identify with them.
 
Let us pray to the Lord in the Eucharist and to his mother, Mary to “desire and choose everything that most helps me to love God and to serve my neighbor in need”.  Amen.