31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 4, 2018

In composing a symphony, you start with a melody, a theme. You begin with that and go forward, adding texture and depth and complexity from movement to movement.  You change the tempo or even the meter, and add different instrumentation and style. But the theme keeps reoccurring. If you listen close enough, you hear it again and again and again throughout the symphony.

Love God.  Love your neighbor!  That’s the theme of God’s composition!  Everything else is a variation on that theme.  So today we are going try a little homiletic symphony.  Every time I raise my right hands you bring back the theme and shout out:  “Love God; love your neighbor.”

Is the orchestra ready?  Love God; love your neighbor!  

From that beginning all that God wanted was that we were happy, delighted in this world and at peace.  But it became clear that we would need some help. So early in the days of our faith formation, Moses was called by God to help form his people; he gave them a very simple direction: Love God; love your neighbor.  They did well.  For awhile. But they always seemed to get lost so God expanded his law to the Ten Commandments for the purpose of keeping the people united with each other and united with God, so that we would be filled with joy in this world, so never : Love God; love your neighbor.

Over time the “Ten” were challenged and amended; they were added to and detailed out; they became more complex and often difficult to understand.  Soon there were laws about cleaning pots and pans and bed sheets and bodies, and about the right way to offer sacrifices and offerings. They kind of got lost in it all.  So God sent his Son into the world. Jesus had a wonderful way of teaching about forgiveness and healing and love and compassion. But when he was pushed into the “what is most important” corner, he always came back to: Love God.  Love your neighbor.

Over the last 2000 years our world has changed so much.  Civilizations have come and gone; our own country has engaged in war after war; we have written countless laws and treaties and policies.  We continue to stumble our way through race issues and immigration issues, global warming and affirmative action, through poverty and economic ups and downs, healthcare and right to life and end-of-life issues.  We’ve tried everything, sometimes successfully and sometimes failing dismally. Not be left out, even the church got into the act with its own rules and codes and laws, policies and procedures and requirements.

But in the end, when the volumes of rules and regulations, laws and policies, treaties and court rulings and executive orders are dismantled, one thing doesn’t change.  One law remains. One rule overrides all others. One priority stands above all others. Something so simple, so pure, that that it has withstood the test of all time and all cultures and with all people in every age: Love God.  Love your neighbor.

And Jesus said: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”



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