From the moment I moved to St. Louis, I realized it was a baseball town. Each October, the town is painted red with team spirit and the Cardinals make a run for the World Series. No matter how badly they are out-matched, people still cling to hope that the underdog will prevail. There is something about rooting for the underdog, sticking by the little guy who can beat the giant against all odds. The theme is replayed in sports and movies and books, alike. In today’s readings we see how God loves the underdog.
In the book of Exodus, God clearly states that we are not to take advantage of the weak. We shouldn’t bully. Rather, we should love all people, regardless of status. We should look with compassion on the single mother, the poor, the immigrant. What God is telling us is that we need to be compassionate toward everyone for we are all first and foremost children of God.
Loving the outcast can feel like an overwhelming task. The response psalm give us the first step. Our response should be to love the Lord, our strength. With the strength of the Lord, we can then move forward, loving those around us. The more that you grow in love of the Lord, the more you realize that loving God and loving your neighbor are one in the same. What a great mantra to repeat – I love you Lord, you are my strength.
In the Gospel, the legalistic Pharisees are trying to trip up Jesus on a technicality, so that they can trap him. Jesus offers clarity in the face of complexity. Jesus is able to boil down the law and the teaching of the prophets into two statements, love God & love your neighbor.
Simplicity. We need more of that in our lives. It is easy to get distracted in the web of life. The readings this week challenge us to keep our eye on the prize of heaven by loving God and neighbor in simplicity of heart.