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A Scripture Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Stephen Bevans, SVD | October 29, 2017

By Steve Bevans, SVD | October 29, 2017


A Scripture Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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





There are a lot of things going on as we approach this Thirtieth Sunday of the Year. In our world there is the uneasy peace that is threatened by sabre rattling by North Korea, Iran, and the leadership in our own country. At the same time, we are still reeling from the tragic events of the last month: Untold damage and death by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, by wildfires in northern California, a devastating earthquake in Mexico. Unspeakable violence and tragedy in the wake of the brutal shootings in Las Vegas and a massive truck bomb in Mogadishu, Somalia.

In many Christian churches, this Sunday is “Reformation Sunday,” and on October 31—besides Halloween—we will commemorate the five-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. That is the day that Martin Luther is said to have nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, Germany. As Vatican II confessed, the divisions that resulted from this act were the fault of both the Protestant and Catholic Churches, and we have much to repent about for all the anger, hate, and suffering that our divisions have caused.

Much closer to home for me, in the parish community where I will preach on this Sunday, we will be celebrating a blessing of catechists and having a ministry fair. And for all of us, there are the usual family celebrations and tensions, worries about relationships, fretting about finances, excitement about coming events like weddings and anniversaries and graduations.

So there’s a lot going on!

In the midst of all of this tension, suffering, remembering, and celebrating, however, our readings for this Sunday take us to the calm center of our Christian faith. They speak of the compassion of God, and of God’s passionate commitment to those who are the poorest of the poor—migrants and refugees, widows, people who are strapped by debt, and have been taken advantage of (Exodus). They speak of how we are called ourselves to model the compassion and commitment of God in our lives (St. Paul to the Thessalonians). And they speak of Jesus’ “Great Commandment” to be caught up in God’s compassionate and committed love so completely that we treat ourselves and our neighbor (in today’s understanding both other people and the entire created world) with that same tender care. Loving God with our whole being and loving our neighbor as ourselves sums up the whole Law, and sums up our readings as well.

Loving God and our neighbor as ourselves moves us to be involved in whatever way we can in movements of peace and non-violence, and in actions for the relief of victims of these last tragic weeks. This might take the form of political activism of some kind, of being generous in terms monetary donations or donations in kind, or of being more mindful of our suffering sisters and brothers in our daily lives and in our prayers.

Loving God and our neighbor as ourselves moves us to treat our Protestant sisters and brothers with deeper love and respect, and to commit ourselves to pray more often and with greater yearning for the church’s unity. We have come so far in the last fifty years after Vatican II, but we still have so far to go. Our lack of unity is such a scandal!

Loving God and our neighbor for the people in my parish community this week means appreciating the great ministry of our catechists in the religious education of our children. It means seriously considering the large variety of ministries that our community offers and choosing one that seems to suit our interests and capacities.

Loving God and our neighbor means that we keep trying in those relationships, keep being generous to our families and friends, keep being gentle with ourselves as we worry about our jobs and bank accounts.

Today’s readings call us to the still point in our turning, churning world—to evoke an image of the poet T. S. Eliot. Yes, there are so many things going on around us and inside of us, but our readings remind us that at the center of them all, and giving meaning to them all, is the compassionate, passionate love of God into which we are invited to live and move and have our being—and so make a difference in our world by bringing that love into it.


The above image is from the Public Domain.

Author information Stephen Bevans, SVD

Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor Emeritus of Mission and Culture
S.T.B., S.T.L., Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; M.A., Ph.D., University of Notre Dame; Study: University of Cambridge

Steve Bevans is a priest in the missionary congregation of the Society of the Divine Word and Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor Emeritus of Mission and Culture.

After completing his Licentiate in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1972, he served as a missionary to the Philippines until 1981. In 1986 he received a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and has taught at CTU since that time, officially retiring from the faculty in 2015.

He is the author or co-author of six books and editor or co-editor of eleven, including Models of Contextual Theology (2002), Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today (2004), and An Introduction to Theology in Global Perspective (2009). In 2013, he edited A Century of Catholic Mission, and, in 2015, with Cathy Ross, Mission on the Road to Emmaus: Constants, Context, and Prophetic Dialogue.

He is a member of the World Council of Churches' Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.

Books written by Steve Bevans

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