Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 105


“For this command that I enjoin on you today 
is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ 
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”



Recently optimistic thinkers have said we can feed all the world's population sustainably; that is, without wrecking the environmental balance of the planet. We can, in other words, eliminate poverty. 


There are problems, of course. One problem is defining poverty by material things: food, shelter, transportation, education, security, health care and so forth. Human beings certainly need these things and every political/economic system should strive to provide them. If it intends to supply only the needs of the powerful or worthy it is inherently corrupt and therefore unsustainable. If its scope is only materialistic it lacks the vision to address the spiritual issues. You might as well plan to supply everyone's need except oxygen. Life itself wars against injustice. As Robert Frost said, 
SOMETHING there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
Human beings need neighbors, as today's gospel demonstrates. Why is that so hard to figure out? I heard a discussion on the radio about the NSA -- the National Security Agency. To discover if a citizen should have security clearance they interview his neighbors -- as if his neighbors might know who visits him and the allegiances of these visitors! But few Americans know their neighbors anymore, and only the most desperate for a life watch their neighbors' comings and goings. 

Speaking to his people in the Book of Deuteronomy, the Lord insists, "this command... is not too mysterious and remote for you. Jesus tells us all we have to do is look beyond our own personal interests and those of our families and love our neighbors. 

It sounds simple until you realize you don't know your neighbors; and that even your family is falling apart under the stresses of modern life. We have built too many walls and we're (pathetically, helplessly) building another "Berlin Wall" along the Mexican border. 
Father Cletus


The Founding Fathers of our country, despite their a-religious deism, understood that the human being has and needs a spiritual life. Their complaints against England were not because people were dying of poverty. They resented the King's refusal to allow American participation in decisions that affected them. When the various states of the confederation demanded a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution, they immediately guaranteed the freedom of religion, speech, assembly and the press. They might have added "the right to work,' another vital spiritual need. 

The American experiment in democracy is still new and we have much to learn. We will make a great leap forward when we hear today's gospel and learn to "love your neighbor as yourself." 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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