October 29, 2017 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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In the summer of 2016, I was asked to give a keynote on the Church and same-sex attraction to a conference of 2000 high school teens. When friends and family members heard the topic, most thought it was an impossible task to present this content to 2000 people. They had questions:

Are you nervous?
No.
Are you afraid of how divisive this topic is?
No.
Are you afraid of people walking out if they don’t like what you say?
No.
Are you ready to handle such a complicated topic?
Yep.
How are you so confident?
How on earth was I so confident?

I was confident because while we often make the details complicated, there will always be a simple, fundamental truth that is absolutely uncomplicated.

Love God, and love one another as ourselves – for we are sons and daughters of God.

Before anything else, we are first and foremost children of God. We are sons and daughters of the King of the Universe who created us, loves us; calls us and equips us to face the challenges of the world. Everything else is informed by that truth. Our responses, our actions, our aspirations and our forgiveness are all rooted in that truth. Stick to the basic truth of who we are and Whose we are, compassionately apply that to our world view, and all other things will follow from it.

Similarly, this week we see the Pharisees try to corner Jesus with what seems like an impossibly complicated question:

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

There are over 600 commandments in Mosaic Law – how could Jesus pick one? It seems they hoped to stump and discredit our Lord with this test. But, the Son of God’s reply was beautiful, simple, and true:

He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Faith can be complicated, life can be complicated. Not all answers are simple or easy answers, but ultimately, all answers are informed by simple truths. Our challenge is to remember to apply those simple truths in all our interactions – love God and love others as ourselves. And remember, as from the first reading, pastoral compassion is key- If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.

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