A pair of readings which drive home a point which many miss. In the Gospel reading, Jesus comes upon a funeral procession for a widow’s only son. Her only son dying would condemn a widow to destitution. Jesus brings her son back from the dead, and the people are overwhelmed by that happening.
In the Epistle, St Paul wishes the Ephesians to be able to comprehend with all saints the breadth, length, depth and height and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. Imagine how much that must be compared to our own knowledge!
We’re back, and there’s all the more reason to distribute sacraments along with potential controversy! How many people actually get what Jesus was telling us? Paul certainly did!
The legalism of the Old Testament, especially The Law, was a stumbling-block for people. And I’m sure that most of us can think of something we were never attracted to until someone tried to prohibit it! And that’s the reason for the Kingdom of Heaven and the Spirit.
And if we follow the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit will exclude the fruits of The Law, giving us something far greater!
Again, what seems to be a difficult Gospel verse that you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and the scribes. But, what does it mean? The Pharisees and scribes devoted their lives to following all of the rules. Do we have to out-do them in following nitpicky rules, or is there something greater that they missed?
And with that, Jesus shows us what is at the heart of genuine righteousness.
More basis for what we’ve been saying! John points out the importance of our loving each other, even if the world hates us. After all, whose opinion counts, people who don’t care except to mess with you, or God and those you share with?
John also points out that love is not found in empty words, but in the substance and reality of what we do for each other. And if we can manage that, who knows how much will come to be ours!
MORE CONTROVERSY! Or, at least, some will think so. In the Epistle for today, we see John speaking about love. John was both a disciple and an apostle, and he was with Jesus when he ministered to all kinds of people, from the elite to the outcasts and even outsiders. We have no record of Jesus denying anything to anyone, not even the woman of Canaan, an outsider.
In light of that and what John says about love, it is obvious that love is not merely important, it is central to Christianity. This should be sufficient answer to those who try to claim that hate is a Christian value!
CONTROVERSY ALERT! In this Epistle reading, St Paul hits the nail on the head, supported by a piece of Gospel scripture most folks probably don’t know. Why don’t they know? Because nobody had the nerve to tell them about it!
Paul tells the people that love is the fulfilling of The Law. Do that, and you’ll fulfill The Law without worrying about the nitpicking. Not only that, Luke 16:16 shows Jesus saying “The Law and The Prophets were until John: since that time the Kingdom of God is preached and every man presseth into it.”
In college, I learned quickly that if a professor repeats a point again and again, I’d be seeing it again, on an examination and perhaps in real life! And once again, the writer of the epistle places emphasis on what it is we are going to gain by completing all of this.
He also mentions the love of Christ, which “passeth knowledge”. This is a concept for us to understand, because it shows something waiting for us beyond our current comprehension.
One experience many of us have in common is listening to lectures in school. And it was no secret that if the person teaching kept making the same point over and over again, including in different lectures, you’d probably see that point again in an exam and perhaps in real life. We have that situation here.
Again, stress being placed on love and its importance. Basically the question is: “How can you be what you claim if love is not part of you?”
The Gospel tale of the man with the large supper illustrates how this works, and it works both ways. Most of you will recognize the art of the excuse being done by the originally invited guests. See then what happens to what would have been theirs.