20th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Ezk 37:1-14
The hand of the LORD came upon me, and led me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. He made me walk among the bones in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were! He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? I answered, “Lord GOD, you alone know that.” Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD. I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them. Then the LORD said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off.” Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.
Gospel: Mt 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
LOVE GOD AND YOUR NEIGHBOUR: The Rabbis at the time of Jesus were frequently asked to summarize the law. Rabbi Hillel, for example, summarized the law as “What you hate for yourself, do not do to your neighbour. Go and learn.” It sounds like the golden rule of Jesus. The response of Jesus consists of two commandments that are familiar to the Jews. The first one that deals with love of God is a quote from Deut 6:5 and the second concerning the love of neighbour is a quote from Lev 19:18. The commandment to the love of God was recited every day by the pious Jews and so very familiar to them. The commandment to the love of neighbour is a demand from God to demonstrate their faithfulness to the covenant. It is loving those matters; all other things are secondary.
Prayer: Lord help me to love you and the others
THE WHOLE BIBLE TALKS ABOUT LOVE: St. Augustine says, “Love and do whatever you want”. Love is life. Ruth loved Naomi to the end that she was not willing to abandon her until death. She loved her people and she loved her God and followed her to Bethlehem even after her sister-in-law had given up. The story of Ruth is the story of love just like the story of Jesus and the church. That is why the scriptures teach us that love is the greatest commandment. Love unites us with others and ultimately with God. Love takes us beyond race, tribe, nation and even religion. The whole of the Bible is summarized in loving God and our neighbors. May we love and live to demonstrate it to all that we meet and to God our Creator.
FINDING GOD IN OTHERS: We can think of times in our lives when we have given and received love. The joy of love in good a relationship is sharing God’s love. The joy of bringing a compassionate love to the sick, the migrant, the prisoner and the poorest of the poor is also a moment of sharing God’s love. The gospel is a daring statement of Jesus. While his listeners would agree on the two commandments of loving God and our neighbor, they would be surprised to hear them equalized. The whole of the law hangs equally on these two commandments. There is an essential link in loving God and loving each other. The way to find God is to find the way of love in our lives. All our relationships – personal, communitarian and family revolve around this love. This is the heart of religion.