Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

Sunday’s Gospel Reading - for October 26, 2014 (30A) - revolves around the question: “Which commandment of the Law is the greatest?” Another way to put this question is to ask, “What do I need to do to achieve salvation?” Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

In the Sunday Gospel according to St. Matthew we encounter Christ in conversation with a lawyer who has asked him a question, not in order to learn, but in a malicious plot to destroy Christ. Out of this evil intent Christ brings forth the beautiful gift of the "greatest commandment": "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. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

In his response Jesus takes the opportunity to instruct His people to encourage us in the truth, teaching us about the foremost duties of life and teaching us about the proper biblical relationship between love and law.

A Two-fold Yet Single Commandment

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS shows us how the two commandments quoted are not original to Jesus. This is very old teaching. The command to love God is from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the command to love one’s neighbour is in Leviticus 19:18. But we do see three firsts, Fr. James Gilhooley points out to us. For the first time in Jewish theology, Jesus had taken the two concepts and made them two sides of one coin. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio refers to it as the two-sided coin of charity. Also He was the first to argue that "on these two commandments hang the whole Law..." Finally, He was a complete original in telling His audience one must love Jews and Gentiles. The Gentiles were the ones the Pharisees loved to hate.

Henceforth, Father Cusick makes clear to us, Jesus tells us that the Decalogue, the ten commandments, must now be interpreted in light of this two-fold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law.

“Love God and love your neighbor.”

Christian love is first and foremost about knowing God. It is a love, according to Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., that comes from the goodness of God, the one who loves and reaches out instinctively to anyone who is in need. After that, it is about loving our neighbor. Love for God, explains Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, comes to its own identity through its fulfillment in a love for neighbor. It is in putting God first in our lives and incarnating that love through acts of sharing, service, commitment, prayer, hospitality, etc., Fr. John J. Ludvik adds, that we live that love and make Stewardship a way of life. It is the heart of our daily lives, the springboard of our actions, a practical way of life.

But we also learn something else from verses 37 through 40. Jesus shows us here implicitly that love to God and love to neighbor flow from God's love to us in Christ. You can't love God or love neighbor christianly, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. clarifies, unless you have experienced the love and the grace of God yourself. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says it is the basis of our decisions, the reason for our prayer life.

Creeds and Laws

Inevitably we end up talking about creeds, dogmas, commandments, and boundaries. As in any tiny seed, there is present a fairly complete script for this love's health and growth. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says good creeds, dogmas, and commandments simply lay out that script for love so that it can be consciously read. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says we need these laws to help us. But the root of law and of life is fair care of others. It is loving concern under God for human persons. Ultimately it is an imitation of God’s love for us.

Mass, Decorum and Faith

A couple of weeks ago at a Mass celebration, a baby somewhere toward the back half of the church began screaming. It started at the Eucharistic prayer and lasted through the Sign of Peace. After several minutes of this, the priest stopped Mass and asked the parent to take the uncontrollable baby outside. As you might imagine, calls poured into the parish office either complaining about the priest or excusing the parents. Her bottom line? Sometimes things worth our time and effort come with rules and expectations. Mass should be one of them. Read her full essay here.

And any parent knows, Mass with defiant toddlers, wiggly preschoolers, and teething babies can be anything but peaceful. So as an adjunct to the above story, we bring you Kate Wicker's "7 Tips for Attending Mass With Young Children." And we think this article by Fr. John J. Ludvik is quite relevant to this discussion as well - "Proper Posture, Gestures and Observance During Mass." It is a greatly detailed teaching article that reminds us that the postures we use throughout the liturgy train our bodies so that Christ may live in us.

And here'ssomething that caught my eye because I was challenged about it by a Protestant friend just in the last week: "Does the Bible Prohibit Religious Images?" This topic is a real stumbling block for a lot of Protestant Christians, and even Catholics often are left a bit uneasy, unsure how to rectify what the Bible seems to say with what the Church teaches. So let's join Joe Heschmeyer for a serious discussion about idolatry and iconoclasm.

Effective Catholicism

How does one become an effective Catholic? Let's start with prayer. Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D. offers her "Ten Practical Prayer Tips from the Carmelite Sisters" in response to a reader query on how one can find some time to pray.

Then let's offer some practical tips. Ashley Crouch offers her advice to incoming freshmen — from someone with experience. She instructs them on "How to Be a Catholic Woman on Campus." While Marc Barnes talks about "Why It’s Great to Be a Young Catholic."

And there's more tips for you all this week. Borrowing an idea from Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this list compiles 7 Habits of Highly Effective Catholics. Emily Stimpson looks at the aftermath of Vatican II and offers a back-to-the-basics look at what Catholics should know. She calls it "10 Things Catholic catechists should know." Plus she gives us another list: 19 Words Every Catholic Should Know. It's a list adapted from the Diocese of Harrisburg’s “Basic Catholic Vocabulary.” And to top off our set of lists this week, here's Travis Ketner's five reasons why you should vote in every election.

Bob Hope and His Ladies of Hope

Bob Hope — “the most honored entertainer” ever, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, for his achievements in theater, radio, film, TV, philanthropy and business, and an extraordinary record of service to country, with 199 USO shows around the globe — won the biggest prize of all in the waning days of his life when he converted to Catholicism. And he had his mother, wife and Our Lady of Hope to thank for making all the difference in his life.

Finally, Leila Miller talks about why she should never have had eight children. Had she listened to the devil and modern conventional wisdom, that is.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: What commandments require restitution?
FEATURED BLOG: Does the Bible Prohibit Religious Images?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus Nos Invita a un Amor Integral a Dios y al Projimo
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