Love and the Law

October 25, 2020 | N W | Discipleship, Father Salvador, Love, Mission, Obedience, Wisdom

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 25, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Ex 22:20-26 / Ps 18 / 1 Thes 1:5C-10 / Mt 22:34-40
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor

Ordinarily, nobody likes to be told what to do and what not to do. But for as long as we live, laws and restrictions will always be a part of our lives.

In my early years in the priesthood, I was assigned by my bishop to a remote village right next to the Pacific Ocean. Almost all the people there, including children, are skinny – probably because their primary means of transportation is walking. In a tropical country, this is very common. But every once in a while, I would see children who were overweight, and my question to them was always, “Do you live with your grandparents?” And their answer, 99.9% of the time was “yes.”

I have to admit that, as a child, I was also on the heavy side. The reason is that I went to my grandparents’ place most of the week, and there I could eat almost anything that I wanted, and there were no rules as far as food was concerned. Unlike at my house where the fridge was filled with fruits and vegetables – you don’t care about those foods when you are seven years old! The only rule that my grandparents had was that I should love them. And that’s easy!

But you and I know that the Lord’s command for us to love others as we love ourselves is not as easy as it sounds. In the gospel, when the Pharisee asked the Lord Jesus what commandment is the greatest, what he had in mind were the laws in the first five books of the Old Testament, called the Torah. There are 613 laws that the Jewish people had to follow.

Although we may think they are burdens, a traditional Jew would consider them gifts from God, because these laws are their guide on how to live their lives as God’s people. A few of them we have heard in today’s first reading taken from the book of Exodus, like, “You shall not oppress an alien. You shall not wrong the widow or the orphan.” Those are just two laws; they had 611 more that they should follow.

When the Lord was asked which commandment was the greatest, He gave only two commandments – to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. The Lord surely made God’s law sound so simple, but there is a gray area there, and that’s what makes it a little complicated. That gray area is love.

It is in this regard that we need God’s help, especially when we are around people we don’t like. So the next time we make any decision, or before we do anything, or even say anything, the question we should always ask ourselves is, “Am I doing this or saying these words out of love?” If our answer is yes, we can rest assured that we are following God’s will.

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul said, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for the one who loves one another has fulfilled the law.”