25 August 2017: Love Your Neighbour

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Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1: Ru. 1:1, 3-6, 14B-16, 22; Gospel: Mt. 22: 34-40

Teacher “which command of the law is greatest” (Mt. 22:36) asked a lawyer to Jesus.Though asked with a malicious intent, the question is relevant, considering the number of laws that were prevalent among the Jews. However, the fact that disturbed me most reading this passage is why did Jesus speak of two laws, when asked for the greatest, which should be only one. I think the greatest law (love of God) has no base if it is not manifested in the second that is the love of our neighbour.

The first reading today brings forth a perfect example for the same. Ruth, a Moabite woman in her decision to stay with Naomi, her mother-in-law, expecting nothing in return, would qualify her for a place in the genealogy of Jesus (Mt. 1: 15).

Our love for God needs to be manifested in our love for our neighbour. Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10: 25-37) would explain neighbour as all who are in need of my help. The challenge placed before us today is to find God in our neighbours, especially in the poor and the oppressed.

It is quite challenging to read and reflect over the 11th poem of Gitanjali in this context…

LEAVE THIS chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the path-maker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!

Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation; he is bound with us all for ever.

Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.

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