Reflection: Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Ex.22:20–26; Ps.17; 2nd Reading – 1Thess.1:5-10; Gospel – Mt.22:34-40]


The protagonists in this week’s gospel are the Pharisees who got together ‘to disconcert’ Jesus by asking him a question.  As we have seen over the last few weeks, they ask Jesus a lot of questions – simple questions that on face value seem quite innocent, but which in reality are designed in such a way that there is always a hidden trap/agenda.

Today they are asking Jesus about the law: “Which is the greatest commandment of the Law?”  It is odd that such a question should come from the Pharisees because they were the experts of the law.  They knew very well what the law says and therefore they knew very well which was and is the greatest commandment.  Obviously their interests are not really about the commandments (if at all).  Instead their interest is all about disconcerting Jesus.  Their lack of respect for Jesus meant that they were actually going against the commandments of the law!

However, instead of them disconcerting Jesus, it was Jesus who ended up disconcerting them.  Jesus gave them a true answer to their question, which they already knew and could verify.  But Jesus also disconcerted them further by adding a second greatest commandment of the law, which Jesus himself said that it resembles the first one.  While the first commandment is about loving/respecting God with all one’s existence, the second commandment is about loving/respecting others as one’s own self.  As always, Jesus goes beyond what the written law says and speaks further about the meaning.    Although the respect for God is the subject of the first and the greatest commandment, the second greatest commandment (i.e. the respect for others) is closely followed by and related to the first greatest commandment.  Jesus says that this second one is put on the same level as the love that one has for one’s own self.  The greatest commandment (the love/respect for God) can be seen through the actions of the second commandment (the love/respect for others).  This ‘human’ love/respect can have sense only if it is done in the light of the love/respect, and therefore in the relationship, with God.  The love/respect is reciprocal.  This commandment of the Law binds both parties… and in truth everyone, including you and me!

In our life, we are unlikely to ask Jesus questions in order to ‘disconcert’ him.  Also, we do not need to ask him anything about the greatest commandment of the law because we already know what the answer is going to be (and so we find ourselves on the same level as the Pharisees in today’s gospel).  But what is our reaction to the greatest and the second greatest commandment of law?  Having the necessary knowledge, are we going to enter into this circle of reciprocal love/respect between God, our neighbours and ourselves?  The choice is ours.  What are we going to do about it?

Lord, quite often in life we discover that we have the knowledge of things, but we lack the energy and maybe sometimes the good will to put our knowledge in practice.  Give us the strength to be able to live according to the commandments of the law, that of love and respect.  Thank you Lord!


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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