WITH ST. MARY'S
THE SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Love with a heart like Jesus'.
SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The most important part of the Jewish religion for its practitioners is called the Shema, a prayer that encapsulates their faith from its very foundation: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and strength.” These words are not even to be found in the list of the 10 Commandments; they are set apart, with love of God being at the forefront of faith. When Christ was tested and asked what the greatest commandment was, he replied with the Shema, but added another element that he claimed could be found as the basis of the Law and the Prophets - love your neighbor as yourself.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
When God became man, He did so with the ultimate motive of showing us how to live as human beings. His sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate act of love, and by offering himself, he taught that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. Jesus was a Jew; he studied the Law, prayed the psalms, and read the Scriptures because the Jews were God’s chosen people. They were the ones through whom God would come to know and love the rest of humanity. All that Judaism stood for, the entirety of the Law and the Prophets, was absolutely crucial to the teaching of Jesus Christ. However, because the Jews had a particularly intimate relationship with God, they prioritized their humility and subservience to their almighty Creator, which is clearly indicated by the importance of the Shema in their faith. To them, humility and subservience to God was the best way they could express their love for Him with their heart, their soul, and their strength. But Christ, who was God made Man, came to remind his own people that love of neighbor is just as much a part of this Greatest Commandment as love of God is. He wanted us to know that we cannot properly love God if we are not loving our neighbor. Love of neighbor should look identical to the way we love God: to be humble before others, to serve them, and if need be, lay down our lives for them. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus continues to teach during the Sermon on the Mount, emphasizing that God does not want us to do the bare minimum of what it takes to express our humanity. He wants us to go out, to do more, to reach our full potential, which is only possible through love. Revenge and retribution are not to be exercised by humans; instead, we must never turn our backs on our neighbors, even when we are hurt by them. This is to fully realize the teaching of Christ that there is no greater love for another than to offer yourself entirely to them, no matter what. Loving those who are like us and hating those who are different is truly the bare minimum; humans are naturally predisposed to love, but it is in differences and conflict that lead us to hate. Instead, we are called to love even in the face of differences and conflict. It might take an active decision of the mind, a deliberate stirring of the soul, and a showing of strength to do so, but this is exactly how we are called to love. To love God, we must love our neighbor.
Family activity to do at home: This weekend is the last in Ordinary Time before we begin Lent on Wednesday. The liturgical year is filled with important dates and events that are the basis of our Catholic faith. At St. Mary's, we want to make sure that everyone (in particular, young families) are learning what it is we do as Catholics and why we do these things. One of the most familiar outward signs of our Christian faith is the ashes we will be receiving on our foreheads this Wednesday. Not many people are familiar with how these ashes are made, so St. Mary's Young Family Ministry hosted an ash-making event this weekend, a fun way for children and adults alike to learn how the ashes are made, as well as enjoy the community over hot chocolate and s'mores. Below, you can see pictures of the event. To live the life of the faith requires the elements of our faith to be accessible to anyone - if you would like to learn more about what it means to be Catholic, we encourage you to keep a lookout for all of our Church events. These are really fun and communal ways to grow deeper in our understanding of the mysteries of the faith.