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Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples: Committed to Christ, Responding as Disciples

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time of Year A and Commitment Weekend

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time of Year A & Commitment Weekend
Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples.

Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40

We all like the comfort that comes from belonging, the sense of being attached to particular people and places. That sense of belonging gives shape to our identity and provides security in which to grow. Outside our small familiar world there are worlds of strangers, people whom we notice or ignore, depending on our likes and fears. Today’s readings are all about love — the radical love of God for His people and the radical love we are called to live out in response.

From the very beginning, God reveals Himself as a loving and compassionate Father who has a concern for the most vulnerable of His people. God requires this same compassion in our treatment of one another.  In the reading from the book of Exodus we hear how the people of Israel were expected to treat the stranger; “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt”. The Israelites had themselves been vulnerable and just as God had pity of them, so they were to take pity on outsiders. Often the real stranger is not the person we don’t know but the person we don’t want to know or the person we refuse to love. That person could be a neighbor or even a member of our own family. We can have strangers in our own house, still waiting to be welcomed and loved. We all need strangers and neighbors to test the quality of our mercy. When we respond, we have the assurance that we minster to Christ: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”. Christ still comes to us not only in the forms of bread and wine but in the form of the stranger seeking welcome.

Jesus sums up the message of all the prophets as well as the purpose of all God’s laws in today's Gospel passage when he laid out the two great commandments; “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind ….: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love of God and love of neighbor are the two legs of our Christian life and we need them both. If our spiritual life is weak, may be one of these two legs is being neglected. If our prayer life seems flat, then maybe we need to look at extending ourselves more generously to others. If our working with others is unfocused or draining, then may we need to strengthen our prayer life. Without love of neighbor, the love of God remains a sterile figment of the mind.  Without love of God, love of neighbor may end in a vague humanitarianism that usually does not last, especially when faced with disappointments.

The commandment of love makes concrete demands. The love to which we are called should not be confused with the superficial sentiment that is often rooted in self. Jesus purified such shallow sentiment in the demand that we should love as he has loved us. The love of Jesus was anchored in the will of the Father and demonstrated in a life given to the Father’s will. We proclaim the Gospel to the world when we aspire to a love that “does not insist on its own way and is not resentful, a love that does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in what is right; a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.”

Through love of God and love of neighbor, our discipleship of Jesus becomes whole and entire. Through both of them, we receive grace and mission. Love of God gives us grace; love of neighbor gives us missionLove God, love people and make disciples.

This weekend, we are celebrating Commitment Sunday for our Committed to Christ, Responding as Disciples initiative.  I would like to invite Tom Haley, Glen & Ann Seeman, and Tito & Katia Purcell to speak with you for a few moments on how they are living as faithful stewards and responding as disciples here at All Saints Church. [Lay Witness talk]

We will now give each of you the opportunity to reflect and renew your sacrificial commitment to support the mission of our Parish.  Once again, thank you for prayerfully and generously continue living your faith each day. May the Lord bless you all with an abundance of gifts. ###

Find out more about Committed to Christ, Responding as Disciples

 

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