YEAR A: HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
HOMILY: (Mt. 22:34-40) Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel Jesus was asked which is the greatest of the commandment. From the original ten commandments entrusted to Moses, it had multiplied to more than four hundred. This was because of the emergence of particular situations which needed implementation of the original commandments. However, in the course of those implementing laws, the spirit had been lost and the letter of the law became the priority. In other words, mere fulfilment of the law was enough and the context was neglected.
In answering the question, Jesus went back to the basics and foundations of the law. He put the laws in perspective and origin. God’s commandment was actually One law which has two complimentary facets.; love of God and love of neighbor. Jesus further defined the love of God should be with our whole soul, mind, strength, and heart. Basically, it means loving with the whole self with nothing excluded. It is an involvement of one’s being to his God who does the same. Jesus wants us to extend the same to our neighbours. Do we treat the other like God? It seems Jesus meant it that way. Remember that we were created in God’s image and likeness. Also, Jesus proclaimed that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do it to God. While our neighbours are not God, we ought to render the same respect in loving them as we should love God.
Jesus noticed that the implementation of the commandments had entered on the laws. An evaluation of situations involving the law seems to cover only compliance with the laws. How about the context, person, and time? The issue on the Sabbath had revealed this deviation from the spirit of the law. Thus, Jesus pointed out to them that love, which is the care of neighbours, animals, or properties, should be the basis of the the fulfillment of the law and not merely the letter. In particular, while the Sabbath Law requires Jews not to do some hard work, the saving of an endangered animal or a person from harm should be an exception. Unfortunately, such actions were also condemned.
The harshness of the “dura lex sed lex” dictum in law comes into mind. While in its essence it still considers context and equality under the law, it lacked the spirit which God had provided it with. There was a time when in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, sins are assigned specific penances. The Church realized the lack in this process. Thus, the confessor, now. is asked to further know the situation and the person. Questions like, age, status, work, external influences, and even intentions are now taken into consideration. There are such things as “mitigating circumstances’ in every situation.
In any case, the Lord Jesus brought back the law to its spirit and foundation. His response reminds us that we should not only be concerned with following the law but that we are relating with our God and neighbor. The laws should enhance and order our environment. But it should not hinder us from loving God and our neighbor. Finally, the law of love is the greatest and only law. With the law of love, we can never go wrong.