Sunday 29 October 2017, 30th (A)
● Exodus 22:20-26 ● Psalm 18 ●
● 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10 ●● Matthew 22:34-40 ● Title: “Hot”
[__01__] Who is hot? Who is not ?
The Major League Baseball World Series is hot. And, this past Tuesday – Game 1 in Los Angeles - the Dodgers were hot, playing very well. And, the temperature was elevated - 103°F (39°C) at game time on Tuesday October 24th , it was the highest temperature recorded for a World Series game. And, in the game, pitcher Clayton Kershaw dominated with 11 strikeouts. He scorched the Astros earth.
Ticket prices were also hot & high in southern California. On Tuesday morning, the cheapest ticket available was $882. In the metric system, that’s equivalent to $882.
The good news – for buyers of tickets and for Houston Astros’ fans is that - the ticket prices were cooling off as game time approached – you get a ticket for 700. And, the Dodgers themselves cooled off; the Astros won the next 2 games.
It’s still hot in L.A.
It is the heat and fire season
[__02__] In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, we could say that Jesus himself was on a roll, was “hot”, and becoming increasingly noticed by the media and messengers of his day.
Last Sunday, Jesus was challenged publicly regarding TAXATION and the LEGALITY of taxation. And, his well-known endures today as a reminder of our responsibility to give ourselves God and also to give ourselves and serve the community and to do so though legal and governmental means:
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
[__03_] And, TAXES are a hot topic. Not much has changed.
This Sunday, the Pharisees and Scribes have a question, turning up the temperature in the room with:
“Teacher, which commandment of the law is the greatest?” (Matthew 22:26)
[__04__] Both the question of last Sunday and the question of this Sunday are about – VALUE.
In other words, what and whom do you and I value?
[__05__] Naturally, we associate LOVE with VALUE.
Here, I do not mean only material or monetary value. But, by analogy this applies.
Tickets to the World Series are scarce, fans are fond of their teams. This makes the tickets more expensive, highly prized.
Jesus is connecting LOVE and LOVE OF GOD with LOVE OF NEIGHBOR.
Do we “prize” and “value” those around us as our neighbors?
This is not simple. Every one of us, at times, is difficult to love, difficult to understand.
[__06__] And, Jesus is also connecting, uniting love of God with love of neighbor, i.e., love of the person across the table from y you at home or in the cafeteria, love of the neighbor across the street or across the school bus.
Naturally, we associate love with value. Here, I don’t simply mean material or monetary value. But, by analogy this applies. Some objects (or behind-the-dugout or behind-home-plate ticktets) are highly prized because they are precious, rare and, therefore, expensive.
[__07__] That is, we adore what is precious and rare and distinct.
Love and value go together.
In our relationships, one to the other, we are also called to discover this value.
But, we do not simply love another person because of his or her market value or approval rating acceptance or appearance.
To be blunt, we do not just love what is HOT, right now …or what is consoling or pleasing right now..
Rather, in many of our relationships – such as mother to child or father to child – or grandparent to young person – we are called to love another person with some level of confidentiality, intimacy, secrecy and for the long term. In other words, we may love the other person for a reason that is not known to others.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13 remains us that FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE are important virtues.
But, it is LOVE which enables us to have FAITH and HOPE. After all, I can believe something or someone is true and honest. But, I may not necessarily love him or her.
The Pharisees, themselves, obtained the answer and printed receipt that they wanted from Jesus about the greatest commandment. But, they did not value him personally for his own sake.
To love another person means that we value the other person not because of a mutual gain but because of a mutual gift.
Pope John Paul II wrote about this saying that it’s OK – and virtous – to treat another person as an object of love.
The word “object” is highly charged and has man connotations. However, we can treat another person as the object – as the goal and reason – for our love. But, we are called to avoid treating the other person as an object for our use or our own gain. (Pope John Paul II, Love and Responsibility, ¨The Person and the Sexual Urge ¨, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, p. 39)
[__08__] God loves you and me in a similar way, not because of what we do or produce but because of who we are.
We are also the objects of God´s love.
When we love others simply because they are, and as they are, we are also learning not only to give God’s love but also to receive it and turn back to Him each day.