Thirtieth Sunday of the Year Exodus 22: 20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1: 5-10; Matthew 22: 34-40
“To disconcert him one (of the pharisees) put a question to Jesus. ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ ”
The repeated clashes between Jesus and the pharisees can be interpreted as a commentary on a frequently overlooked beatitude.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
The questions we ask, and the answers we give, spring from the heart. They express, and reveal, who we are. As sinners in the presence of God, our first question must always be a cry for forgiveness, swiftly followed by a plea for the grace which alone has the power to transform our wayward hearts.
“Have mercy on me, God in your kindness, and cleanse me from my sin. A pure heart create for me. O God, and put a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 50
The questions put by the pharisees did not spring from a pure heart longing for the presence God. They sprang from the blindness of a pride seeking to put itself above every other consideration.
The answer given by Jesus sprang from that purity of heart which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…..and you must love your neighbour as yourself.”
Love is not easily defined, but for the pure in heart, it is always selfless, ‘willing to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end. Cf 1 Cor 13: 4ff
Such love is constantly refined as it is measured against God’s pure love. Thus Moses warned the tribes of Israel of Israel that their love of God would be measured in terms of their love for the stranger, the widow and the orphan.
We are to welcome the stranger and the impoverished as God has welcomed us in our poverty.