When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
In my inner-city parish people come to us daily for help with rent, food, medical needs. I’m not a social worker, and so I’m grateful for the knowledgeable people on our team who can find the help people need. But when I read today’s First Reading—a portion of the Mosaic Law taken from the Book of Exodus—I do get some basic instructions for some practical things I can do to help.
God tells me there that my conduct toward people who are vulnerable because of any human need must be tempered by recalling my own human condition. The people of Israel—the law says—should remember they were once strangers in Egypt; and so the stranger on their doorsteps ought to receive respect and care. God has been good to me in my times of real need; and now God may be asking me to do the same for someone.
Later in the passage there’s a very practical instruction about returning a man’s cloak to him for the night, even though you’ve demanded it as a loan guarantee. That instruction tells me that any relationship I have with the poor must honor people’s God-given dignity. Thanks to that instruction I look into a person’s eyes on the soup kitchen line, and try to communicate our shared relationship in the Lord. God’s law is full of the compassion of God—and that’s the first thing I can share with my fellow human being.
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
The Lord warns the Israelites, in the first reading (Exodus 22:20-26), not to harm or oppress any widow or orphan. What will the Lord do to those who harm these powerless poor ones?
The Lord also strongly warns the Israelites against extorting or demanding things from the poor. What did the Lord say he would do?
In the second reading (1 Thess 1:5c-10), Paul praises the Thessalonians. Why?
What does Paul say about the how the Thessalonians received the gospel?
The Gospel describes how one of the Pharisees tested Jesus with a question. What did this “scholar of the law” ask?
What is the first commandment? And what is like it? (Love of God and love of neighbor go together.)
by Susan Hines-Brigger
Try to think of some ways that you can show your love for family and friends and then do some of them. You might even include your neighbors in your efforts, if you know them. It could be baking them something, writing them a note, or even doing some cleaning or yardwork.
Read about the five love languages by Dr. Gary Chapman at 5lovelanguages.com and try to figure out which language describes you and your family members best.