30A. Exodus 22:20-26. Yahweh was mindful of the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt. He was compassionate for them and so released them from their captivity. In line with this Sunday’s first reading, Leviticus 19:32-34 also says, “When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the Lord, am your God.” God treats with compassion all peoples and wants us to do the same. God finds it reprehensible to take advantage of others, when we have the opportunity, by doing them harm.
Matthew 22:34-40. In Matthew 22:37 Jesus replies to his questioner, “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” On reading this, I have always asked myself, if you truly love God with absolutely everything you have, you would nothing left with which to love yourself or your neighbor. In turn I have thought that, if you truly love God, then you must love his Will for you. His Will for us is that we love everyone he loves. 1 Jn. 4:20-21 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” Also 1 Jn. 3:15-18 reads, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”
1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10. As it said in the quote just before, as the Lord laid down his life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for others. This reading calls us to be imitators of Jesus and so to be a model for all believers, as in the lives of the Thessalonian Christians something of Jesus himself was seen. Paul and Jesus are calling upon us to love as we have been loved so that in every place our faith in God goes forth like seeds to sow faith in others. As with those to whom Paul wrote this letter, we are to turn away from the allurements of this world “to serve the living and true God and to await his Son,” “Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.” Jesus says in Jn. 13:34-35, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, you have love for one another.”