Friday, August 19, 2022 20th week in Ordinary time
Ez 37:1-14; Ps 101:2-9; Mt 22:34-40
“Dry bones; hear the word of the Lord!” (Ez 374). I had not thought much about these words but put in the context of Israelites wondering if their rightful place will be restored, it makes sense. They are dry, lacking motivation, lacking hope, lacking stature and mostly lacking spirit! Are we lacking all of that and wandering around like dry bones? No, it is not late October, but mid-August, where the sun beats hot, and the rains are few. It is easy for us to lose the spirit and become dry bones during this Ordinary Time (as the Church calls this season). How much we long for the holidays coming soon. Yet, we need the flesh put back on us and we most definitely need the wind to blow and bring the spirit back into us. Wake up dry bones, and be alive!
In our Gospel reading, I am reminded again about what a priest friend of mine said at a 50th wedding anniversary. He said it took him a long time to really understand what we, as Christians, should be doing. He talked a little bit about the 10 Commandments, and a lot more about the Beatitudes, but the thing he really stressed was the verses from the Gospel reading today, Mathew 22:34-40. He stressed Love. In his eyes, at 80+ years old, he finally figured it out, all that matters is Love. Our whole life, he said, and especially our eternal life, depends on how we react to this message and how much we Love one another. It was a beautiful message for a 50th wedding anniversary, but it also made us all think about how we were living out that very commandment today.
Jesus was emphatic about it. “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments,” He says. Now our job is to live it out. Easily done, right? Not so fast… with our free will we constantly are being challenged to love one another. Not only in what others have done, but more so in what we have done. I know I have done or said things in the last week that were not very loving to others around me. So it is my responsibility to ask for forgiveness for those times I have offended anyone. I would hope you are willing to forgive me if I offended you in any way. Love can also be a challenge when you know someone is doing something wrong. In a previous chapter of Matthew, Chapter 18, we are asked to confront those who have sinned against us, but it must be done in love. If you do it out of spitefulness, who has created the greater sin? So go to them in love, and help them see the error of their ways. According to Mathew 18:15, if he listens to you, you have gained a brother. As another friend of mine says, “I may not like what you are doing, and may have a hard time liking you, but there is no doubt in my mind, that I do love you.”
Loving as a Christian is not easy, but it is the way. It is repeated all throughout the New Testament. It is the only thing that matters. Jesus told us this, many times, and as my old priest friend says, at 80+ years old, he finally figured it out. Let us get our dry bones moving, come alive with the spirit and hope we do not wait that long to figure it out.