Readings: Matthew 22: 34-40

Exodus 22: 20-26

1 Thessalonians 1: 5-10

In this week’s Gospel, as in last week’s, the Jewish leaders seek to trip up Jesus. The question the lawyer poses was much discussed in rabbinical circles: Which is the greatest commandment? The Pharisees’ intention in posing the question was to force Jesus into a single rabbinical school, thereby opening him up to criticism from all other sides. Jesus’ answer, however, proves his fidelity to both the Jewish tradition and to a spirituality that transcends the legal interpretations of the commandments: the “second” commandment is the manifestation of the first. If we love the Lord God with our whole being, that love will manifest itself in our feeding of the hungry, our sheltering of the homeless and our liberating of the oppressed.

Today’s first reading is from the section of the Book of Exodus known as the “Code of the Covenant,” a detailed explanation of the moral, civil and ritual legislation by which the Israelites were to become a holy people. Today’s reading outlines the laws of charity toward the poor and “aliens” and the promise of Yahweh’s protection of the helpless and defenseless.

In today’s second reading, Paul encourages the young Church at Thessalonica to be a model of faithful community for the new churches in the region.