Gospel Reflection – Week 30 Ordinary Time – Cycle A

Jesus’s word was a rocket straight through the religious understanding of the day. We cannot play down just how revolutionary he would have sounded, and how much hate would have been levelled at him because of his commandment to love.
It sounds odd, doesn’t it. It sounds like we want to cry out against those devious Pharisees and scribes and all those who couldn’t or wouldn’t understand Christ’s message. We, after all, understand that message.
Or do we? Do we, really?
Let’s look at our own world in 2020. We can still be just as protective of our egos as the Pharisees and scribes. We can still manipulate religious understanding to suit our own plans. And yes, we can still go on spouting vitriol and hatred towards others, even whilst professing to have ‘found’ Jesus. Today alone, one of the major contributory factors to faith-apathy from the young is the mass surfacing of evidence that Church members cared more about the name of the Church than the ones abused by some ministers. This is using an edifice of trust and moral integrity to commit wrong, and it happens in the Twenty-First century just as it did in the time of Christ’s earthy ministry.
So, perhaps the setting in which Jesus taught isn’t so different to ours, in some respects. And perhaps we have further to travel than we think. He introduced a new commandment: to love one another. What a difficult thing to do! Christ is still that rocket through our understanding.
Jesus remains the most misunderstood man to have walked the face of this earth. Which is why developing a close loving relationship with him is both essential and to be entered into with great caution and care. Many are those who turn Jesus into their own personal superhero and fully believe that Jesus agrees with them in every situation and fights those who don’t, as though he’s a cross between an invisible friend and a genie. Jesus is not jealous of your love for him: quite the opposite: he wishes us to pass it on to others. Yet we can be very possessive. No, our understanding of Jesus must come from our entering into the Gospel message and, most of all, his single commandment to love, to spread the good news.
He doesn’t prescribe for us an easy life. He wants to push our boundaries so that our rooftops can open into paradise, and this can only happen when we dare to step outside our own little lives, our own prejudices and needs and beliefs. To put it another way, love is not ‘me-shaped’, it is the shape of Christ. And we are the ones who must bend, change shape, in order to live in him. If we simply remain the same shape, satisfied to keep Christ in the little spaces that exist between our failings, then we are not living that commandment. Love is a doing-thing. It asks us to push off from our own shore and open ourselves to those who challenge us. To not do so is about as far away from Christ as we could imagine.
And yes, we fail. Reshaping ourselves is a painful, lifelong process. But we learn, when we fail, to begin again. We get up and carry on trying. So, we pray for the grace to open out into Christ’s love, to serve him by being love to those around us, to develop a real relationship with the King of Love. Amen.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
‘You must love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself.
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees they got together and,
to disconcert him, one of them put a question,
‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’
Jesus said,
‘You must 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 resembles it:
You must love your neighbour as yourself.
On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’
The Gospel of the Lord.