MONDAY: Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Love and Christian Spirituality
Unconditional Caritas and filial love are indispensable components of the divine law and Christian spirituality. It is impossible to love God and simultaneously hate or even dislike one’s neighbour. True love bears no prejudice and carries no bias. Its hospitality goes beyond ethnicity, nationality, social stratum or religion to recognise, appreciate and uphold the integrity of every human person without discrimination.
Christ Jesus reaching out to prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans, gentiles, the Pharisees, the publicans and even those who suffered from Leprosy are powerful expressions that he excludes no one from his love. He loves the world (Jn.3:16).
The world and its fullness are God’s; he jealously guards the entire world (Ps.24:1-2). In the face of mounting discord and discrimination in the wilderness, God gave Israel the Ten Commandments to preserve their spiritual integrity and the human dignity of every individual on the march to freedom with them. Later Jesus summarized the whole law into two great commandments, which makes it impossible for a believer to have a divided heart towards God and neighbour. In other words, the person who intentionally curses, exploits, discriminates or oppresses his neighbour because the person is a stranger or a nomad is implicitly violating the dignity and integrity of God (Prov.14:31). Christ spoke to this with utmost clarity when he said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me (Matt.25:40).”
Thus, when the tax collectors questioned Peter about Jesus paying the half-shekel, Jesus, in turn, asked Peter, “From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners? Peter responded ‘” From foreigners.’” Still, Jesus sent Peter to fish the funds out of the mouth of a fish to pay himself and for Peter. How will we interpret Jesus’s response and his action? In other words, if they can discriminate against me, they will later discriminate against you. “A server is not greater than his master. If they persecute me, they will persecute you too (Jn.15:20).”
Migrant intolerance is pervasive, today. It ferments bigotry; ethnic disparity is creating a chasm in the minds and hearts of many who drink that brew of hate and a philosophy founded on lies. They lack acumen. Regretfully, the same people proclaim Christ Jesus from one side of their mouths yet spew diatribes from the other to instigate mayhem and create an air of despair among those seeking a better human way of life for their families. Those who create this atmosphere of intolerance and bigotry no longer remember their history. Their ancestors, they forget were once migrants who blazed the trail for them and gave them fortunes on golden platters. True love always remembers its narrative and observes its memorials to avoid repeating the errors of the past.
Deuteronomy 10:12-22 is a powerful reminder to the constructors of today’s history, society, politics, economy and religion that such patterns of behaviour and ideologies can have serious repercussions for them and for their respective nations. Remember this: a heart where hate dwells can never love God. True Christian spirituality is founded on the love of God and love of neighbour without distinctions (Jn.13:34).
My Lord and my God, please help to recognise your presence in everyone without distinctions.