Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

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John F. DelloRusso, O.S.A.
Church of St. Augustine
Andover, Massachusetts

Ex 22:20-26
Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
1 Thes 1:5c-10
Mt 22:34-40

In a few days the campaigning will be over and we will vote not just for President but for the women and men who will serve in public office for the next years.

Have you already voted? Have you decided who you will vote for? Are you still undecided? What criteria have you used to make your choices?

The church does not endorse a particular candidate though there are Catholics, and even some church leaders, who openly state that a Catholic should not vote for X candidate or Catholics should vote for X candidate because he/she supports one particular issue and that should be the only criteria, notwithstanding the many concerns and issues that face our nation and world at this time.

Have the values of our faith and the teaching of our church guided your decisions? What about the word of God proclaimed to us today?

Which commandment is the greatest? Jesus’ response to the question are not unfamiliar words to the Pharisees or the people. They have been the heart of their daily prayer and way of life. However, linking “love of God and love of neighbor” as the foundation of the whole law and the prophets adds a new dimension and makes very concrete the how the commandment is to be lived out. They are not unfamiliar words to us. We easily quote them but how we live them is another question.

And this Gospel is linked to the Word of God from the Book of Exodus, our first reading. So what about the specific commands God gave the people of Israel centuries ago. The issues, or better, the people God cared about centuries ago – the alien, immigrant, refugee, undocumented person, however we might refer to them today, and the person struggling under the weight of debt – are the people God charges us to take special care of today.

We might think these are good criteria for us to use to determine who we should vote for. However, if we limit these words only to our elected leaders, I think we miss the point. God’s command not to oppress the alien or the person in debt was addressed to the entire nation of Israel. The commandment to love God and neighbor is addressed to all disciples.

So maybe the question for us, as we elect new leaders and live out the next years, should be: What kind of nation are we called to be? What will be the values and principles that will guide not only our policies but how we will live with one another, especially the most vulnerable, in the world community? And how will we, all of us, live and work both as individuals and as church?