Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
1 Thes 1:5c-10
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by Benjamin Newman, Class of 2011
In the reading from Exodus, we hear practical applications of charity. Firstly, God gives the command to treat foreigners, widows and orphans well. That sounds nice; we all know what it is like to be mistreated. Secondly, God commands to not extort neighbors down on their luck. That sounds nice too.
Oh, if you do not treat the foreigners, widows and orphans well, God's wrath will flare up and He will kill you and your family with the sword. Did I mention that if you extort your neighbors, God is going to hear about it?
̒ Too much to remember! What if I don't remember!', you say? The psalm gives us a preview on why this is as bad it sounds: love. God does not want to punish you, rather He wants to be your salvation.
Paul's letter to the Thessalonians reveals a trinitarian and christological dimension. We receive joy from the Holy Spirit. God the Father sent Jesus to Earth in the incarnation. Because of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection we have―hopefully!―gained salvation. (Psst, there is a whole lot of love tied up in there and not just in the Passion of Christ. What is the nature of the relationship between the persons of the Holy Trinity? Perfect love.)
In case you have already forgotten the commands from the first reading, the Gospel gives the fundamental commandments. The first and greatest commandment is to love God. Love God with all your heart. Love God with all your soul. Love God with all your mind. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.
If remembering two commandments is too much, the rule of St Augustine simplifies it in to one: be of one mind, one heart on our way home to God.