Friday, July 24, 2015

Keep Holy

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By John Guerre

“I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me…You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain…Remember to keep holy the sabbath day…Honor your father and your mother…You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.” Exodus 20:1-17 


Responsorial Psalm

R. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul; The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.


In the process of preparing my reflections for this Tripod, as a 76-year old man with 15 years of formal Catholic education, I have been led to a new and deeper appreciation for the Church’s intent in its sequencing of the Readings for the Liturgy of the Eucharist; namely, First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading, and Gospel. The First Reading comes from the Old Testament, with a Responsorial Psalm chosen as a bridge to the Second and Gospel Readings from the New Testament. As such, this sequence takes us from the Mosaic Law to that of the New Law of the New Moses, to the Messiah, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s Readings reflect that structure and frame my reflections as well as some hard personal questions.

The First Reading from Exodus recounts the Ten Commandments, known as the Decalogue, given to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The Decalogue is the core of the Mosaic Law, which along with the Book of the Covenant deals with matters of worship, legal, and moral behavior of the Israelites. The Commandments seem very clear and their salvific truths remain today for us just as they did for the Israelites. However, in understanding that they were addressed to a wandering tribal community of a much earlier society, my challenge is how does their interpretation over the centuries apply to my daily struggles as a 21st century educated urban dweller?

Here is where the Responsorial Psalm chosen for today’s Readings gives me some hope: “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.”

To begin a simple approach, the 10 Commandments are divided basically into two sections: the first three dealing with God, and the second seven dealing with the neighbor. But which of these is most important? Christ “simplified” much of this for me when He was challenged by the legalistic scribe asking what was the Greatest Commandment? “He said to him, ‘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. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Mathew 37-40

But now with this simplification, in the Gospel Reading, I am challenged by the Parable of the Sower. Here Christ challenges me to reflect on just what kind of ground my seed of Faith and commitment to these Greatest Commandments of love has fallen. Is it really rich soil? Do I really love the Lord my God with all my strength, all my heart and soul? Do I truly have an intimate and loving relationship with God as my Heavenly Father? Do I truly worship Him more than I do the values of this hectic and materialistic modern day world I live in?

And, on the other hand, do I really love my neighbor as myself? What does love really mean – is it choice, emotion, commitment? What does neighbor really mean? Who are my neighbors – my spouse, my children, family, friends, next door neighbors, co-workers, fellow parishioners, Cursillistas, etc.? Are they also the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, the homeless, the prisoner, other marginalized peoples of our society and the world? What am I doing to express my love for any of these my neighbors, both those easy to love and those difficult to love? What am I doing daily to carry out this love in my family, neighborhood, parish, as well as collectively with others, to help meet the injustices of our world?


In the “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt 5:3–7:27), we have been given a road map for navigating the spiritual journey of the New Law of the New Moses, our Messiah, Jesus Christ. May He grant each of us, the grace and strength to follow it with the Greatest Commandments of love and perseverance!

R. Alleluia, alleluia

Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart

And yield a harvest through perseverance.

R. Alleluia, alleluia

(From today’s Psalm)

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