30th Sun A
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
The incident described in this Sunday’s Gospel occurs also in the Gospels of Mark and Luke though they use the story differently to Matthew. Here it occurs in a series of incidents where Jesus’ opponents try to ridicule and undermine him. As usual he turns the tables by taking the discussion to another level and uses their question to give an important understanding regarding the Law. There were 631 laws in the Jewish Torah. It was virtually a full time job keeping them all, which was why a class of ‘religious’ people had evolved in Jewish society. Unfortunately, many of these people despised those who did not faithfully observe ‘all’ the Law like they did. When Jesus befriended the ‘outcasts’ of the Law, he too was viewed with hostility.
Into that situation comes a Pharisee to put Jesus on the spot. The question asked was not new. Others had tried to determine which was the greatest commandment. What was unusual was the way Jesus twinned together the commandments to love God and to love one’s neighbour. The response to love God with all the heart, soul and mind is based on Dt 6:5 and was the first prayer a Jewish child learnt, was the opening to every prayer service and was the prayer with which a devout person punctuated the day. When Jesus says the second commandment is ‘like it’ he was actually saying the second is of equal weight to the first. We cannot have the first without the second.
These two commandments together hold the rest of the Law. Without them, religious law just becomes a bundle of rules to tie up people’s lives and warp their understanding of reality. With them, religious law can become a wise guide helping people discern their way through the complexity of life.