Theme of the Sunday: The Whole Law Is Summarised in Love. The Christian catechism is not difficult; it can all be learnt in one lesson. If we obey the commandment of love we fulfil the whole law. The rest is just comment and explanation. This is the message we learn from the gospel today. The first reading applies this commandment to our less fortunate brothers and sisters, strangers, orphans and widows. The second reading is linked to this theme; it gives the example of the early Christian communities who obeyed the law of love.
Entrance Antiphon Cf. Ps105:3-4
Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice; Turn to the Lord and his strength; constantly seek his face.
Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise. Through our Lord. .
If you afflict any widow or orphan, my wrath will burn against you.
A reading from the Book of Exodus (Exodus 22:21-27)
Thus says the Lord: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbour’s garment in pledge, you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down; for that is his only covering, it is his mantle for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 18:2-3a.3bc-4.47 and 51ab (R. 2)
R/. I love you, Lord, my strength.
I love you, Lord, my strength;
O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my saviour. R.
My God, my rock where I take refuge;
my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold.
I cry out, Praised be the Lord!
and see, I am saved from my foes. R
The Lord lives, and blest be my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted.
The Lord gives great victories to his king,
and shows merciful love for his anointed. R
You turned from idols to serve God and to wait for his Son.
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10)
Brethren: You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA John 14:23
Alleluia. If a man loves me, he will keep my words, says the Lord; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him. Alleluia.
You shall love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 22:34-40)
At that time: When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Which is the greatest commandment of the Law? Jesus replied; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul and all your mind… you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This answer of Jesus is a summary of our Christian faith. It appears easy to say and repeat when asked, yet difficult to practice. The word ‘all’ simply means that when we love, it must be unconditional, unlimited and entire.
The reading from Exodus expands this and tells us how we should be compassionate and benevolent towards the strangers, widows, orphans and the poor. In today’s world we find situations so contrary to this biblical teaching: strangers are exploited economically and emotionally, poor and the weak are oppressed and condemned to live in misery and impoverishment. Today’s readings challenge us to welcome the stranger, empower the weak, provide for the poor, and comfort the afflicted. As true disciples of Christ, love alone must rule our lives, constantly reflecting the compassionate and loving face of Jesus who loved unconditionally.