30A20. Exodus 22:20-26. There are many laws in the Old Testament but the underlying absolute rule is to act and think as God acts and thinks. Jesus in Matthew 16:23c rebukes Peter as he says, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Today’s reading says one must return the neighbor’s cloak that was given as a pledge “before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.” The word compassionate literally means that God feels what the needy neighbor feels. God unites himself to the one who is needy and who pleads to God for help. In Jesus’ parable in Matthew 26: 25, the king says to those who did not help the needy, “what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” As God said above, “for I am compassionate, which is to say, God feels what the needy neighbor feels.
Matthew 22:34-40. Jesus says, “This is the greatest and the first commandment.” “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This means that everything, without exception, belongs to God. The second says one is to love his neighbor, which one’s fellow countryman, as one loves one self. In John 13:34 Jesus changes that second commandment saying, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so also you should love one another.” With this change we are not only to love our neighbor but also everyone including our enemies. In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” In John 5:48 Jesus sums up by saying, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect” (holy). If we fully respect and treat God as our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our minds, then for us he is the measure of everything. His Will that is infinitely more expansive than the Ten Commandments is life for us. In place of the Torah or Law of the Old Testament, the divine Person of God and his Will is now our law and measure of who we should be and how we should live.
1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10. Paul makes a great point of how preaching the gospel is accomplished by one’s manner of life when he writes: “you know what sort of people we were;” “You became imitators of us and of the Lord;” “You became a model for all the believers.” We preach Jesus by what and how we live and by the living examples of faith we have become. The Thessalonians “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Paul says of the Thessalonians, “In every place your faith in gone has gone forth.” They lived the love of God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind and by their love of one another.