30th Sunday of the Year (A) 2020
Love God and love your neighbour, Jesus tells the Pharisees. He wants to link the two commandments together; as if to say that you can’t have one without the other. You might believe that it is easy to love God. God can be a distant figure, and it is always easy to love someone far away. What isn’t so easy is to love someone much closer. What Christ is telling us is that the measure with which you love your neighbour is the measure with which you love God. And just to help us to know how we can love our neighbour we have the first reading from the book of Exodus; it can be used as an examination of conscience. What do we read?
The first way to love your neighbour says the book of Exodus is to do no harm to him or her; don’t molest or oppress. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to us; that the least we can do: not to harm them. Then we are told not to be harsh with the widow or orphan; in other words, the most vulnerable in society. There was no social security in those days; if your husband died you and your child would be destitute. Exodus, notice, doesn’t tell us to be kind and generous, it just says don’t be harsh. So again, it is the basic minimum. Then Exodus speaks about money; that we are not to be dishonest and especially with the poor; don’t cheat them.
Christ’s message is: to love God we have to love our neighbour and particularly those who are vulnerable, those who are weak and poor. The implication being that if you don’t love those who can’t help themselves then you don’t love God. To love God isn’t something purely spiritual but also something practical. It is not enough therefore to pray. Nor is it enough to go to Church every Sunday or to go regularly to confession. Catholics can do these things and still be hard hearted. The measure of my love of God is the measure I care for others, and particularly the disadvantaged. So it is quite easy really to know if I love God, whom I cannot see. When I examine my conscience I must ask myself how much do I love my neighbour whom I can see.