The readings for this Sunday put in front of our eyes the greatest of the commandments.
In the time of Jesus the people of Israel had already understood that the greatest commandment had two parts: love of God and love of the human being, which is the image of God.
THE BOOK OF EXODUS
Before reflecting over the Reading let us say a word about the book of Exodus.
v Exodus means exit, this is the name that the book has in the Greek translation.
v In the Hebrew Bible it is called “Semot = names” because the book begins with a list of the sons of Jacob who migrated to Egypt.
v In this book we find the beginnings of the people of Israel:
o Its physical birth as a nation: the liberation from Egypt, the crossing of the sea.”
o Its spiritual biryt “the covenant on Mount Sinai.”
o Between these two events we have the desert. The desert has always been seen as the place of the temptation and, of the encounter with God.
o This meaning continues to be true in the spiritual life, in the journey of faith of each person in search of God.
v The theology of this book is rich, it presents several important questions such as: liberation, covenant, theophany, law, sanctuary.
v The God of Exodus is the God who speaks to Moses, the God who hears the cry of his people and comes down to liberate it and introduce it into a land abundant in honey and milk. He is the Liberator God.
FIRST READING Ex 22:20-26
Ø Today’s Reading begins with the words “Thus says the Lord”
Ø What does he say? He says that he sees, hears and listens to the suffering of the poor and he also sees the behavior of those who hurt their brothers and sisters.
Ø He says that the evil we do will, come back to us.
Ø Than he says how we have to behave in some concrete situations. The reading presents to us three categories of persons whom God protects because they are more vulnerable and he wants us to do the same:
o The alien who lives in our land, the reason is because “you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. This is really interesting when we see how we treat the aliens among us.
o The widow and the orphan, the two categories of the most vulnerable and abandoned persons in that society.
o The poor who only has a cloak to cover himself during the day and also during the night.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 18: 2-3; 3-4; 47,51
I LOVE YOU, LORD MY STRENGTH
I love you, O Lord, my strength
O Lord my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
My God, my rock of refuge
My shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold
Praised be the Lord, I exclaim
And I am safe from my enemies.
The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
You who gave great victories to your King
And showed kindness to your anointed.
v The Lord is invoked by the psalmist as rock, fortress, shield, stronghold, saving power.
v And the Lord continues to be so for each one of us, and for all our families and communities.
GOSPEL Mt 22:34-40
Ø The Sadducees had asked Jesus a question on the resurrection because they did not believe in it, and Jesus answers them in such a way that they could not ask him anything else.
Ø Their opposite, the Pharisees, want also to ask Jesus a question to get him in trouble.
Ø Their question is “what is the greatest commandment of the Law”?
Ø Jesus answers with the very same words that are found in the Torah:
o The first: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart… (Deut 6:5)
o The second, is as important as the first one: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18) .
o The whole Law (Torah) and the Prophets (the remaining books of the Old Testament) depend on these two commandments.
Ø Jesus reminds them that the whole law is concentrated in the words we find at the beginning of the commandments in the book of Exodus: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the place of slavery.”
o The Lord is our only Lord because he has created us, and he has saved us.
o The rest of mankind, men and women who are our neighbors, are the image of God who has created, liberated and saved us.
o We do not love the Lord if we destroy his image. We keep with love and respect the pictures of our loved ones, in the same way we have to respect and love our neighbor.
SECOND READING 1 Tes 1:5c- 10
ü Paul continues to praise the community of Thessalonica.
o In imitating the behavior of Paul they have imitated the Lord.
o Can we say the same thing, that those who imitate us imitate the Lord?
o He says also a paradoxical thing, but which is true in our relationship with God: you have received the word with great affliction, but at the same time with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
ü In turn the community of Thessalonica has become an example for all the people and the communities in Macedonia and Achaia.
o How they welcomed Paul and the Word he proclaimed to them.
o How they turn away from the idols to believe in the true God.
o How they await the Son of God, whom God raised from the dead and who will come again from heaven, Jesus who has liberated us from the coming wrath. muertos y que vendrá desde el cielo, Jesús que nos libera de la ira venidera.
ü Paul and the communities waited for the immediate return in glory of Jesus. They were convinced that the second coming would take place in their life time, but it has not been so, and we continue to wait for his return.
ü Certainly he will come again, but maybe while we are looking up into the sky, like the apostles after the ascensión, we are missing the opportunity to encounter the Lord who comes to us in humble appearances in the poor, the marginalised, the abandoned and vulnerable of any kind with whom we partake our life and whom, so many times, we do not see.
ü They are close to us, in our families, in our communities, in our society and in all of them the Lord is waiting for our love.
Because the disorders caused by the earthquakes, the archbishop came from the holy visit on console the extremely afflicted people. On this occasion he came to visit us on the same day of his arrival, September 3.
He received us showing his great pleasure and told me that he planned to come again to deal purposely with our affairs. My companion and I were very happy thinking that he was very eager to deal with the matter, but God our Lord willed to fulfill the promise he had made to me many years before, when he wanted to console me saying one day that Fr. Claret would give me a hand for the foundation of the first house, and then, added that he would be the one to make me suffer most. That is why His Divine Majesty willed that I remember his promise since the first conference. .Venerable María Antonia París, foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography-173.
During the first two years, despite the earthquakes and the cholera epidemic, we managed to visit all the parishes in the archdiocese. In every one of them a mission was led either by myself or my companions, and in rural parishes with a very large territory, several missions were given. Every two or three leagues we would hold a mission in one of the many large tobacco sheds. We would set up an altar, a pulpit, and a confessional with the help of some chairs and gratings we brought along for that purpose.
Throughout those first two years it rained a great deal. On one occasion it rained for nine months without skipping a day; and there were days when it rained through the night as well. This made traveling difficult, but I and my companions kept on going and the people kept on coming. We were all happy and in good spirits, although we sometimes lacked even the necessities of life. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 538-539.
CLARET, Antonio María Claret, Autobiografía.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiografía
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, Comentario a La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.
SAGRADA BIBLIA, Traducción oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española, 2012.