Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 29, 2017)
In his Treatise On the Love of God, Francis offers his reflection on the great commandments:
"Just as God created man in his image and likeness, so also God has ordained for us a love in the image and likeness of the love due to God's divinity. Why do we love God? The reason we love God is God himself. Why do we love ourselves in charity? Surely, it is because we are God's image and likeness. Since all people have this same dignity, we also love them as ourselves, that is, in their character as most holy and living images of the divinity. The same charity that produces acts of love of God produces at the same time those of love of neighbor. To love our neighbor in charity is to love God in others and others in God." (Book 10, Chapter 11)
For St. Francis de Sales, the love of God and the love of neighbor are not two distinct experiences as much as they are two expressions of the same reality.
Today’s first reading focuses our attention on an important aspect of God’s love - his compassionate love for the alien, the widow and the orphan - the helpless in society. God told the Israelites of old, and we can use the reminder today: “Remember that your ancestors were aliens once; I heard their cries and I answered them.” New aliens and widows and orphans are crying out to the Lord in their need. He wants us to be his compassionate presence to them today. It’s clear from today’s reading that the Lord is outraged at those who harm the helpless and those who choose to ignore their needs.
Today’s Scriptures encourage us to keep in mind the least among us:
the millions of fellow citizens who live below the poverty line
the one out of four children among us who goes to bed hungry each night
the million or more pregnant women who have poor or no pre-natal care
the millions of aliens among us seeking a better life for their families.
These are our brothers and sisters, “the aliens, widows and orphans” of our day. As disciples and citizens, we should want our nation’s leaders to help us be compassionate to the least among us.
My brothers and sisters, let us be sure to keep the voices of the least among us in our hearts as we prepare to discern new leaders.