Ships at sea uses to steer by the stars and the sun in the days before the compass. Cars and trucks used maps and signs in the days before GPS. But they all used, and still use something to help guide them to where they want to be. Many organizations have found it helpful to have a guide of sorts in place to help them chart their course in the form of a mission statement. Some individuals have found it useful to have a personal mission statement as well.
As I was meditating upon the Scripture Readings for Mass last weekend, I inadvertently uncovered just such a personal mission statement. I say inadvertently, but what I really mean is that I was guided through the process of prayerfully wrestling with thoughts and ideas to what was already there waiting for me to see.
Please consider reading the scriptures prior to listening to the recording below. I hope you are blessed in listening as I was in preparing for my homily. Please pray for me that I may faithful in my first calling in marriage and my second in holy orders, as I pray now for you who will read and/or listen to my post exactly when you are supposed to.
Here is a link to the scriptures this post grew out of: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 EX 22:20-26
Responsorial Psalm PS 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
Reading II 1 THES 1:5C-10
Gospel MT 22:34-40
My spoken homily is never an exact match to the written and the homily is meant to be heard rather than read but nonetheless here is the written form that I worked from.
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Some people say a wood-carver takes a piece of wood, something that we can all already appreciate in the beauty of its grain, texture and shape. Then they carve it to reveal something else in the heart of the wood. Something that was already present and waiting to be revealed. An image of beauty that stays with the viewer in a way that the unrevealed wood did not.
I like to look at scripture that way sometimes. I may take a reading and underline the key parts. Then pray over those and perhaps highlight specific words that reveal something of the heart of the passage that I didn’t clearly see at first. Let’s look at the reading from 1st Thessalonians that we heard today. Now just what I highlighted…
You became imitators of the Lord, a model for all.
You turned to God who delivers us from the coming wrath.
That is something I can remember in a way that I could not remember the entire reading.
Jesus did that in a way today. We heard in Matthew’s Gospel how Jesus was tested yet again by the Jewish authorities. They wanted to put him in his place by asking him a question about the sacred scriptures that they thought he could never answer adequately.
But Jesus, saw into the heart of the scripture and revealed the answer that was already there.
The Scholar asked him what is the greatest commandment in the law? On the face of it, the question appears very honest. The Pharisees identified 613 commandments in the Torah. How could anyone remember all of them? And there was probably a great deal of debate over how some might be more important than others.
Jesus combines two in his answer:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” ( Dt 6:5). And the second of equal importance is “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lv 19:18).
Jesus does not discard other commandments. In fact he explicitly adds:
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
There it was, brought to light in a way that all could see and remember!
The heart of the 613 commandments can be summed up in those two.
Perhaps if we take these two readings and connect them, we can bring out a single ideal upon which we can build our lives. A single way of life which will not only fill us with joy, but also build the kingdom here on earth and attract others to do the same.
A mission statement, if you will, for our lives.
This is what I heard God say to us today, our mission statement.
We are imitators of the Lord, whom we love with all that we are, and above all else.
We are a model for all, joyfully sharing with them the love that is our salvation.
I will say that once more, slowly, so that you can pray it within your heart and mind as you hear it.
Can I get an Amen?
(tie in to Catholics Come Home Campaign)