Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oct. 25, 2014: 30th Sunday in Ordinary A

Click to hear audio homily
Do you ever have the quirky urge, a funny tingle, or a little voice in your head? We call these gut feelings. These feelings could be a common sense perception of what is the right thing to do or an intense emotion that moves you to “go the extra mile.” Sometimes, though, the gut feelings tell you something opposite--”don’t do it,” “ get away,” or “don’t trust.” The question is, should you listen to your gut feelings?

Because gut feelings tend to be immediate reaction without a logical rationale, at times we do need to ponder what they are telling us before we comply. We are given a guideline in how to discern our gut feelings in our readings today. In the First Reading, God instructs the Israelites to be especially attentive to those within their community who are the most vulnerable, defenseless, and disadvantaged. He singles out the aliens--not merely those who are passing through the land--but those who live among people who are not their relatives or kin. This instruction goes counter to our natural gut feeling that tells us not to be trusting of those who are not of our kin or a member of our community. Then Jesus gives us the following maxim after someone asks him what is the greatest commandment in all of the Jewish laws: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

It means that to God we must give total love, a love that dominates our emotions, a love that directs our thoughts, and a love that is the dynamic of our actions.  The Second Commandment points out that our love for God must issue in love for others. But the order is important. It is love of God first, and love of others second; it is only when we love God that other people become lovable. If we take away the love of God, then we can look at human nature and become angry at those who cannot be taught. We can become pessimistic about those who cannot make progress. We can become callous to those who are cold and calculating in their actions. We are called to have the same compassion that God has for us. Compassion means, to suffer with and to have the desire to alleviate the suffering. Mother Teresa offers us this advice, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them...Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness.”