A Reflection on the Readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 29, 2023
First Reading: Ex 22:20-26
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
Second Reading: 1 Thes 1:5c-10
Gospel Reading: Mt 22:34-40
The way God reveals his Truths to us throughout history is gradual. We are like an acorn growing into a tree or a child growing into adulthood. God so kindly revealed basic truths to us in our infancy of humanity in the simple ways we could grasp. As humanity matured, He revealed more truths at the exact right time and when we were ready to comprehend them.
In today’s first reading, we find God forbidding his people from harming the weakest among them – aliens, widows, orphans, and the poor – through 2 methods. First, by reminding them that while slaves in Egypt, they too were in the same position as those they might try to harm. And second, by punishment if they disobeyed.
It makes me chuckle because it seems so similar to how I parented my toddlers at that age. As a first step to loving those around them, I couldn’t explain with clarity to them the reasons why they should do so. They just wouldn’t be able to grasp the concept at that time. So, my two methods were to see if they could understand what it felt like to be in another person’s place and, of course, use punishment to deter them from any wrongdoing. To be a toddler, as well as to be the people of God in the time of Exodus, are both barbaric periods of human history.
Moving along to our second reading, we see Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians contains a more mature method. Paul and his friends visited that community for a time and acted a certain way “for [their] sake.” The Thessalonians saw their example and abandoned their sinful habits, opting to model themselves after Paul & company to such a degree that the news of it spread far. Humanity appears to be maturing by seeing how good others are and following that example. Ah, the wish and challenge of any parent is to lead by example and hope their children see and desire to do good as well.