30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
The Word This Week
When you look at something like the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and see its 691 pages, or look at the 2,000 pages of the big Jerusalem Bible, you can be forgiven for thinking that Christianity is a complicated affair. But Jesus reminds us today that it is essentially very simple: everything can be summed up in two basic rules: love God, love your neighbour. Exodus backs this up, by talking about the simple love that we must show to each other. Not that this is easy - love is always costly, and involves some degree of sacrifice. We will have to change, to become perfect in love; but it is possible, and when we do, like the people of Thessalonica, we become a great example to people everywhere.
Notes for Readers
First Reading: Exodus 22:20-26.
It’s a sad truth that those worst off in any society always seem to be oppressed: in ancient Israel it was the same as today: the stranger, the widow, the orphan, the poor. These are the victims. The Law that God gives, through Moses, to the people has at its heart love: practically this means that people must be aware of how what they do affects others - especially these poor ones. Love is to be shown in the most practical of ways. There is a certain severity in the tone of this reading – it’s laying the line down quite firmly. Allow this to come through, not by adopting an accusing tone of voice, but by the firmness and conviction with which you read. The constant repetition of ‘You must not...’ is very strong: make sure it comes through.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10.
You definitely get the impression that Paul is inordinately proud of ‘his’ Thessalonians - it flows out of this passage. Build up slowly, heading for the phrase ‘it was with the joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the Gospel.’ (Macedonia and Achaia are respectively northern and southern Greece.) There’s a lovely phrase, with a delightful use of language: ‘We do not need to tell other people about you - other people tell us...’ Enjoy it. Underline the words ‘...real, living God...’ and ‘...now waiting for Jesus...’ Above all, allow Paul’s tone of affirmation to come through the whole of the reading. He is proud and delighted that these people have taken the Gospel so completely to heart and are producing great fruit.