Tag Archives: love your neighbour

The Widow’s Mite: Twenty Second Sunday

Remember last weeks Gospel?

Mk 12:28-34 Love God with all you’ve got – all you’ve got, and your neighbour as yourself.

Well this weekend – Mk 12:38-44 – we’re given an example of living the great twin commandment and an example of the failure to live it.

The scribes “swallow the property of widows, while making a show of their lengthy prayers.”

Jesus is clear; this kind of evil disguised as religion, evil hidden beneath a religious veneer will attract a severe sentence.

The Catholic Church has been under this kind of heavenly judgement for some time.

Let’s just check-in to the power of these words: “The more severe will be the sentence they receive.”

The power of words – severe… feel it… and sentence.

Moving on to the widow – she’s an example of living the twin commandment. 

She puts two coins into the treasury; everything she has to live on.

She truly loves all that the treasury represents, she loves God with all – all her soul, mind, strength.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love is put in the giving” as Mother Theresa observed.

There’s something else we should notice about the widow: She hasn’t been put off by the blatant evil of the religious leaders all around her, unlike the claims of so many today.

The top spot in the kingdom belongs to this widow and her kind.

Hell belongs to the scribes and their kind.

Most of us are somewhere in between!

Love is the standard by which God will judge us – but it is love of a much higher standard than we realize

Jesus has taught us that there’s a definitive standard – love defined as love of God and love of neighbour – by which we will all be judged.

But don’t be complacent about God’s love… and be careful of presumption…

Because this love is of a much higher standard than most people realize. Remember Jesus’ teaching that his new standard is higher than the old; love your enemies.

Or the widow who put in one small coin. She put in more than all the others although the others put in much bigger amounts… because she gave everything she had.

He’s indicating different levels of love… which correspond to different levels in the next life, in the kingdom of God.

When Jesus speaks about love he really means all-consuming charity, charity that no longer experiences even a hint of self denial. He’s not really thinking about romantic love.

So be careful… sometimes people use Jesus emphasis on love to include stuff that may be contrary to Jesus intentions; may be contrary. Some TV personalities are quite adept at this!

Here’s a good illustration of the inner dynamics of judgement; suppose I’m buying a car. For many it’s an ordinary enough event and few would even relate it to God. But for others it’s far from an everyday event. I could splash out 20,000 or 50,000 or even 80,000. What we do not suspect is that we’ll relive that choice – and every other choice – from within the standard of God’s love at the moment of our judgement; how did I love God and how did I love my neighbour in these choices?

In our judgment we’ll see what we actually did with what we had, and what we could have done – and much of it will be stuff that we don’t even connect with God, stuff that we might call “business” or “the market” or some other name whereby we remove whole areas of our lives from God, as if God could be excluded, but seeing what we could have done, but didn’t do, at this level – in the presence of God – is actually pure punishment.

So while we might think that a man or woman has been successful, that same success may prove their downfall at the moment of their judgement.

The criteria of judgment will always be; how did I love God and love my neighbour in my everyday choices and no area of human life, endeavour or enterprise escapes God’s attention.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus taught that the poor are blessed? Partly, because they avoid this responsibility and thus they avoid this kind of judgement. But that’s only part of the reason.

The bigger part is how success, more often than not, deceives and empowers our small ego lives into choking our need for big life, for God.

But that’s another day’s work!

Thirtieth Sunday Year A: I’d never say I love my mother by loving my sister!

The religious leaders approach Jesus with a question designed to trap him; “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the law?” This is another way of asking ‘what’s this God thing all about? What’s the most important thing, the bottom line?’

How would you answer it?

Most of us have already asked and answered this question without putting it into words. It’s been a part of our self-talk, part of the conversation we have with ourselves at some point.

Nowadays most people don’t even ask the question partly because the culture has already answered it and the answer is now an unquestioned cultural assumption – if we just love one another; that’s what’s important. There are many variations of it. You’ll often hear it articulated and summarized perfectly as ‘they don’t go to Mass but they’re good people’ or the more theological astute might attempt to say ‘I love God by loving my neighbour’

We’ve flattened the Christian message to just one commandment – variations of “love your neighbour” (but usually without “as yourself” – the inclusion of “as yourself” makes the commandment much more demanding). In flattening the message almost exclusively to “love your neighbour”, God and the love of God has been squeezed out and consequently the church and the sacraments are considered by many to be irrelevant.

When Jesus is asked the question he answers it with great care, it’s detailed, largely because it’s a trick question.

There are two commandments and they can’t be flattened into one. The second “resembles” the first but it’s not identical.

The first is to love God (corresponding to the first 3 commandments which are about loving God). The second is to love your neighbour (corresponding to the other 7 commandments which are about loving God and neighbour). It’s significant that Jesus very deliberately retains the original order in his summary.

“On these two commandments” stands the whole mystery of God.

Two wings are required to fly you into the kingdom of God. Try it on one wing and you’ll surely fall out of the sky – that’s if you can get off the ground at all!

God deserves to be loved in his own right. This is where the deep inner joy comes from; this is the source, the foundation. The absence of this explains so much.

I’d never say I love my mother by loving my sister and then forget about my mother! We shouldn’t do it with God either.