Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 148

Thus says the LORD:
"You shall not molest or oppress an alien, 
for you were once aliens yourselves in the  land of Egypt. 
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.  
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. 

"Everything I needed to know I learned before the first grade." We must often review the fundamentals of our way of life and so we hear Jesus' restating the ABC's of the Gospel life: love God and love your neighbor. By doing so, you will find the Lord Jesus, his Beloved Father and the Holy Spirit taking up residence in your heart.

Once a week we return to the Church to celebrate this mystery, but we know we must drink from that fountain daily, and several times a day, and continually.

The fundamentals of our faith include the bitter history of slavery in Egypt. We were quite helpless there, with both the oppression of overlords and the belief that we are "Children of the Promise." Both were true and the contradiction was painful. Without the promise we might not have struggled with the daily humiliation of subjection to a man who claimed to be god. Our neighbors complied and we might have also. But we were descendants of God's Friend Abraham. We had been honored as the family of Joseph, the Pharaoh's right-hand-man, until "A new king came to Egypt who knew not Joseph." The memory was bitter. 

Then God sent Moses to deliver us "with mighty hand and outstretched arm" and we marched proudly out of Egypt, carrying the gold and silver of our oppressors, to freedom.

But bondage came with us for we also carried suspicion, fearfulness and resentment -- the mindset of slaves -- in our hearts. Even today we suffer the enchantment of sin. It eats at our security as despair, alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide like Elm Street murders snatch our friends, neighbors and families. There is no safe place.

We find our security in the practice of faith, in the love of God and of our neighbor. Freedom seeks no shelter in safe places. Rather, God's grace impels us to forget self-concern and act for the well-being of others. This is why heroes save lives when catastrophe strikes. They cover others when others flee for cover.  
Why did they do that? It comes naturally; it's the thing to do. Possessed by the Holy Spirit, they do what is best for their neighbors.

When we hear Jesus quoting Deuteronomy, we should also recall the words, "Keep repeating them to your children." Our children must learn our history and especially they should know the heroic spirit that does not crave security, that gets going when the going gets tough. Only courage can embrace the dual law which we have heard this morning.

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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.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.