St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

“What do I have to do?”

That question reveals an all too common human tendency to discover what is really important and, usually, how little work, effort or energy need be invested. And so, at school we count carefully the number of words in an essay wondering if “the” or “a” counts. In cleaning, we may give a lick and a promise. At work, we make sure at least to cover the bases, believing like Woody Allen that 80% of success is just showing up.

Sometimes that tendency also seeps into religious practice. “What do I have to do to be saved?” one person asked Jesus. It’s a question a lot of us have wondered and worried about. What are the really important things to do? What would be “nice” to do if we have the time or want “extra credit” and a better dwelling place in heaven?

The lawyers and rabbis among the Pharisees examined the 613 precepts of the Law and categorized them into heavy and light duties.[1] To love God with all one’s heart and soul and mind was a “heavy” commandment. To love one’s neighbor as oneself was in the “light” column. What Jesus did was make the weight of each command equal and the foundation and summation of all religious practice in the Law and the Prophets.

The important word in each command is “love”. Love usually doesn’t look to do the least for the one who is loved but wants to do as much as possible. Love instinctively seeks what is good for the other. This kind of love involves more than a feeling; it is also a choice, an act of the will. For example, we may not always feel like doing something for our spouse, child, parent or friend; but, we choose to do so.

That same type of love is to drive and color everything one does regarding God and neighbor. This kind of love doesn’t need lists of things to check off or be measured against. This kind of love isn’t concerned about what is enough. This kind of love precludes part-time effort and half-hearted service.

This kind of love at the same time might seem a bit unrealistic and unattainable. But, it is something we are to aim for. Will we attain perfect fulfillment of this love? Probably not, precisely because it is an ideal. But the quest for an ideal is so much more fulfilling than settling for the minimum.

A person after visiting the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero said about him and the nuns, priests and non-ordained martyred in El Salvador: “…These people…stood for a kind of religion, a religious belief that influences lives. Religion, for them, was not a case of obeying rules but of influencing lives, and that is very threatening to those who want to keep order. But if religion doesn’t influence lives, why bother with it?”

Exactly!

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Addendum: Please re-read the 1st reading of today: Exodus 22:20-26.

            Fact: Almost all of us are aliens (immigrants) or descendent of aliens in this country of ours.

God is compassionate and says if the alien or widow or orphan or the poor neighbor cries out to me, I will surely hear their cry.

Food for thought.

 

[1] The R.C. Church has done something similar with mortal/venial sins

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