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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 29, 2023

Today’s Invitation

Today, we invite you to explore loving our neighbors with the help of Simone Weil; engage Catholic Social Teaching through the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter Strangers no Longer; and embody the other with the help of Moises Sandoval and the Dolores Mission in Los Angeles.


Commentary by Maria Teresa Kamel

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Reading 1

Exodus 22:20-26

Do not mistreat or oppress foreigners,
for once you were foreigners in Egypt.
Do not take advantage of widows or orphans.
If you do afflict them, they will cry out to me –
and be certain that I will hear their complaint.
My anger will be like fire, like a sword that will kill you.
Your spouses will become widows and widowers,
and your children will become orphans.

If you loan money to my people, to the poor who live beside you,
do not act as a moneylender to them, charging them interest.
If you take your neighbor’s cloak as collateral,
you must return it before sunset,
for it may be your neighbor’s only warmth in the night –
what else would your neighbor sleep in?
If your neighbor appeals to me, I will hear,
for I am the Compassionate One.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 18

Response: I love You, O God, my strength.

I love You, O God, my strength.
You are my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.
R: I love You, O God, my strength.

My God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
My shield, and the horn of my salvation, / my stronghold.
I call upon You, who are worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.
R: I love You, O God, my strength.

Our God lives; and blessed be my rock, / And exalted be the God of my salvation.
Great triumph You give to Your leader,
And show steadfast love to Your anointed.
R: I love You, O God, my strength.

Reading 2

1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

Our preaching of the Gospel was not a mere matter of words.
It was done in the power of the Holy Spirit and with complete conviction.
You know very well the sort of life we led when we were with you, which was for your sake.
You, in turn, followed the example set by us and by Jesus—
receiving the word, despite great trials, with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit.
In this way, you have become a model for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

The word of Christ has been resounding from you —
and not only in Macedonia and Achaia:
the news of your faith in God is celebrated everywhere,
which makes it unnecessary for us to say anything more.
They themselves report to us what kind of reception we had among you,
how you turned from idols to God, to be faithful witnesses of the living and true God,
and to await the appearance from heaven of Jesus, the Only Begotten,
whom God raised from the dead and who will deliver us from the wrath to come.

Gospel

Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless,
they gathered together, and one of them, an expert on the Law,
attempted to trick Jesus with this question:
“Teacher, which commandment of the Law is the greatest?”

Jesus answered,
“ ‘You must love the Most High God
with all your heart,
with all your soul and
with all your mind.’

“That is the greatest and first commandment.
The second is like it:
‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’
On these two commandments the whole Law is based—and the Prophets as well.”


The Inclusive Lectionary © 2022 FutureChurch. All rights reserved. 

The inclusive language psalms:
Leach, Maureen, O.S.F. and Schreck, Nancy, O.S.F., Psalms Anew: A Non-sexist Edition
(Dubuque, IA: The Sisters of St. Francis, 1984).
Used with permission.

Read

Explore

To Love One Another


Maybe the reason that God and prophets are so intent on insisting we love our neighbor is that, in practice, it doesn’t seem to come naturally to us at all. Culture seems to push us further into our own ambitions and preoccupations, so that even opportunities for self-giving are turned into self-congratulation. Simone Weil, the brilliant and troubling French philosopher, knew that to love or even notice another was an uphill climb. 

Weil went to great lengths to understand “the stranger” ontologically, spiritually, and materially. This concern was deeply intertwined with her theology, in which she viewed God as the embodiment and singular source of goodness. Breaking with the traditional Judeo-Christian view of creation – God bringing order to chaos – Weil believed that God withdrew from creation, leaving a void where Goodness once existed. In order to love, Weil wrote, one had to access this missing Goodness. 

Weil believed that to exercise true compassion and sympathy – to understand a misfortune that one is not currently experiencing –  was a task that was unnatural in its discomfort and effort. The exercise of free will being the strongest desire in a person, any instance of self-denial is indeed a superhuman effort. “It is not surprising that a man who has bread should give a piece to someone who is starving,” Weil wrote, “what is surprising is that he should be capable of doing so with so different a gesture from that with which we buy an object.” Love, therefore, with no desire for an emotional or material return was at its very least counter intuitive.  

In order to truly love another, to even notice another, one has to summon Goodness from the source, from the God that has retreated. In doing so, love comes directly from God. As Weil describes in her essay, “To Love Your Neighbor:” “Compassion and gratitude come down from God, and when they are exchanged in a glance, God is present at the point where the eyes of those who give and those who receive meet.” In her work, Gravity and Grace, Weil writes that to love another is to experience “love which has passed through God as through fire.” 

Despite her strong belief that virtue and goodness are only possible through the help of the Divine, Weil’s own life indicated that love of neighbor was a serious practice that transcended emotion or piety. “Philosophy,” she once wrote, “is exclusively an affair of action and practice.” From her self-imposed teaching salary that capped at France’s unemployment benefits; to the seven months as a factory worker in order to experience the sufferings of the working class; to her time as a volunteer for the anarcho-syndicalists in the Spanish Civil War, Weil strove to understand and love her neighbors.

Weil found these experiences humiliating in every sense; to the present reader, they are undoubtedly troubling in their naivete (it’s also impossible not to notice that only a person born into comfort would think of inflicting poverty upon themselves). The value in Weil’s understanding of love for neighbor is in her desire and attempt to remove the distance between herself and another, understanding that “it is God in us who loves them.” 

Commentary by Maria Teresa Kamel


Maria Teresa Kamel is an extended community member of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker. She loves to read short fiction and medieval theology, and splits her time between Los Angeles and her hometown of San Antonio.
Explore

Engage Catholic Social Teaching


Drawing on the history of displacement and migration in Judeo-Christian history, the Catholic Church has been quite vocal in recent years concerning our responsibility towards migrants and refugees, just as our readings for today emphasize love for our neighbor and for those who are new in our communities. In their 2013 pastoral letter Strangers no Longer the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops addressed the ongoing influx of migrants to the United States, calling for greater care for the spiritual and material needs that they would face. The letter is quite direct in its call for urgent immigration reform, as well as its critique of the current immigration system of “enforcement.” 

In addition to confirming the rights of people to migrate in order to support themselves or their families, the bishops offered key directives for communities to support migrants, such as offering social services and legal aid on a diocesan level; responding to the migrants’ “social needs” while respecting and “{celebrating} their culture;” and “{addressing}the causes of undocumented migration” while protecting migrant’s human rights.

Engage

A Contemplative Exercise


Adapted from A Rosary for Vulnerable Migrant Populations by Justice for Immigrants

The Rosary is a Scripture-based meditation. It begins with the Apostles’ Creed, which summarizes the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. The Our Father, which introduces each mystery, is from the Gospels. The first part of the Hail Mary is the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. The Mysteries of the Rosary center on the events of Christ’s life. The repetition in the Rosary is meant to lead one into restful and contemplative prayer related to each Mystery. The gentle repetition of the words helps us to enter into the silence of our hearts, where Christ’s spirit dwells. 

Today, let us pray the Fourth Joyful Mystery using the following meditation:

Simeon and Anna created a welcoming community when the Holy Family came to the temple. They were rewarded with the recognition that they had seen God’s Holy One. We are challenged to create welcoming communities in our own churches. We pray for the grace to recognize Jesus present in each immigrant and stranger. 

A Witness

Moises Sandoval

Moises Sandoval is a little known New Mexican scholar, but his deep knowledge of our country’s most populous “strangers” is indispensable. Born in New Mexico at a time when many still rode horse-drawn buggies and spoke an archaic Spanish that native speakers would struggle to understand, Sandoval experienced the increasingly common feeling of being both outsider and native – deeply Mexican, but American by birth. Sandoval spent his life and career documenting the growing Catholic population in the United States, which increased due to large-scale migration from what had become Mexico, and Central and South America.

Sandoval focused on bringing the reality of these hispanic migrants to the attention and conscience of American Catholics. A prolific contributor to Maryknoll Magazine, and founding editor of its Spanish language counterpart, Sandoval reminded readers of the migrant spirit and history of Christianity – Christ the itinerant, or the Isrealites in Egypt. Furthermore, he challenged the popular liberal “melting pot” approach of assimilation that the church and state encouraged of immigrants, encouraging an embrace of Hispanic migrants, their culture, language, and specific religious practices. 

Sandoval’s history and love for Hispanic Catholics can be fully enjoyed in his work, On the Move: A History of the Hispanic Church in the United States.

A Community

Dolores Mission

Dolores Mission is a Jesuit Parish in Los Angeles. Although it’s well-known for once being the parish of Fr. Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, the parish offers a lesser known model of community through its Guadalupe Homeless Project. Founded by parishioners in 1988, the project was spearheaded by women of the parish who made meals for the many Central American men and women who landed in LA after fleeing violence in their home countries. Eventually, the parishioners, with the support of the church’s leadership, decided to open up the church at night to offer families a safe place to sleep. Today, the main sanctuary offers shelter to 45 men each night, while women are sheltered separately. The project has expanded to include more services for residents, such as English language classes and job training, with the goal of transitioning residents into permanent housing. Nevertheless, the community is still intimately involved and supportive of the project, and parishioners make dinner for residents to this day.

Art

“Each Time I Think of You” by John August Swanson

John August Swanson: “Each Time I Think of You” depicts a crying Madonna and her child, surrounded by a supporting community. The Spanish caption below the image is a quote from a Guatemalan refugee mother and reads: “I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my children again. Every minute that I’m separated from them is anguish.” 



Embody