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主日八分半  
30th Sunday of the Year
文稿(中文)
粵語講道普通話講道

THIRTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Uniting Love of God and Love of Neighbor

First Reading (Ex 22:20-26) : God is unhappy with injustice
Second Reading (1 Thess 1:5-10): The faith of the Thessalonians spread all over
Gospel (Mt 22:34-40): The greatest commandment.
Chinese Classics:
-“If we can care for the final hours of our parents and honor them with the ceremonies of sacrifice long after their death, then the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence.” (1)
-“Rule the world with filial piety.” (2)
-“That parents, when alive, should be served according to propriety; that, when dead, they should be buried according to propriety; and that they should be sacrificed to according to propriety.” (3)
-“They served the dead as they would have served them alive; they served the departed as they would have served them had they continued among them.” (4)


One of the Pharisees asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment Jesus answered him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Ref Mt 22:34-40)

To love God and love one's neighbor are really two commandments, but in Jesus' mind there is only 'one' commandment.

The main focus of all religions surely is love of One Spirit, but Scripture is very insistent on love of neighbor. In Chapter twenty-two of the Book of Exodus the author says that those who worship God must love their neighbor because we need the love of others. This is what is written,“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans. If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbor's cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbor's only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.” (Ex 22:20-26) That is the spirit of 'promoting self and others' in the Book of Exodus.

In fact, uniting belief and a way of life is an element of Confucius' philosophy. We know that Confucius said, “If we can care for the final hours of our parents and honor them with the ceremonies of sacrifice long after their death”. However, we usually forget what comes after this saying, “Then the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence."(1) What Confucius meant was that if the people of a nation would pay attention to funeral rites of their parents and continue with the ceremonies of sacrifice afterwards, their society would be more sincere, friendly and honest. Thus, “the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence."

Confucius taught that we should treat our parents like this: “That parents, when alive, should be served according to propriety; that, when dead, they should be buried according to propriety; and that they should be sacrificed to according to propriety.”(3) Besides, “They (The children) served the dead as they would have served them alive; they served the departed as they would have served them had they been continued among them.” (4) In other words, we should treat the living and the dead with filial love. Confucius also believed that if we could treat the dead with filial love, how could we not treat the living with filial love!

Therefore, the objective of “If we can care for the final hours of our parents and honor them with the ceremonies of sacrifice long after their death” is to ensure that “the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence." This is how the Chinese unite their beliefs with the way they live.

Our faith demands of us that faith and life must be united. The Bible sometimes talks about the afterlife but the purpose is to help us live well in this world. We believe in God so that we can believe in people, ourselves and in life. We love God also so that we can be full of love and hope for ourselves and for others.

Faith, hope and love are virtues directed first towards God, then towards ourselves, and thirdly towards all kinds of people and events. At the same time we should be full of faith, hope and love for God, our neighbor and ourselves. Or expressed even more correctly, faith, hope and love of God expand our faith, hope and love for people, ourselves and all of creation.

Religious faith always calls us to glorify God and I think we can only glorify God with life itself. A perfect example is how children's accomplishments glorify their parents, or students' accomplishments give glory to their teachers. Since God is the Lord of life, if we can live life to the full and manage this earth carefully, this too glorifies God.

This is what is meant by the Latin phrase “Gloria Dei, Homo vivens” (‘The glory of God is man fully alive’). So in God we should love others, and when we love others we are loving God.

Regarding this we no doubt are very familiar with some of the Biblical phrases. “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. (Mt 25:40). “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is to care for orphans and widows in their distress” (Jas 1:27). “Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20).

We must learn to love others in God so that our love can be more pure, complete and extensive. And when we love others we love God in a very practical manner.

Let us during our entire lives always carry out Jesus' words: love with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, and make every effort to continue to love fully in heart, spirit and affection: loving God above all else and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

(1)慎終追遠,民德歸厚。 以孝治天下。
(2)生事之以禮,死葬之以禮。 事死如事生,事亡如事存。

 

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