On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.
A very warm welcome to all to Hearers of the Word for Sunday, 25 October 2020.
Our context today is the on-going crisis triggered by the pandemic. How can we find energy for continued solidarity, unselfishness and resilience? Is there a Christian approach, even, to this very testing time? If you were asked to describe what sustains you right now, what would you say?
As it happens, we are blessed in the readings chosen for this Sunday. The first reading portrays practical ways of loving your neighbour — very much feet on the ground stuff. The excerpt from St Paul sets our sights higher: can we dare to set an example that might inspire others? The Gospel reminds us that we cannot separate love of God and love of neighbour.
Perhaps now might be a good time to take up the recent encyclical of the bishop of Rome, Fratelli Tutti. Here are two sample texts to give you a flavour.
FT 11. Once more we are being reminded that “each new generation must take up the struggles and attainments of past generations, while setting its sights even higher. This is the path. Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realised each day. It is not possible to settle for what was achieved in the past and complacently enjoy it, as if we could somehow disregard the fact that many of our brothers and sisters still endure situations that cry out for our attention”.
Many passages in the letter are very uplifting and hopeful. If I may be mischievous for a moment, one passage seems to be ironic, unless a (much) longer game is being played by the said bishop of Rome:
FT 23. Similarly, the organization of societies worldwide is still far from reflecting clearly that women possess the same dignity and identical rights as men. We say one thing with words, but our decisions and reality tell another story.
One can only think of the Wisdom of Solomon: For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. (Wisdom 7:26)
2. YouTube video
In the YouTube on Matthew 22:34-40, I’ve tried to show how Jesus is in continuity not only with the Biblical tradition but also with the Jewish tradition of his own time.
3. John Barton Lecture from the National Bible Society of Ireland
The lecture by John Barton (plus the discussion) is now available on the FaceBook page of the NBSI.
4. Hearers of the Word (vol. 4) for Advent and Christmas 2020.
The next volume in the series by yours truly is now available for purchase here.
Wishing you all every blessing in the week to come,