Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel
October 28, 2023 // Perspective

Christians Have Duty to Love Others – Even in Public Discourse

Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 

The Book of Exodus provides this weekend with its first reading. In ancient Jewish tradition, Exodus came from Moses. Therefore, in a most special way, it is the very word of God, since Moses represented God and was the link between God and the Chosen People.

Through Moses, God gave to the Hebrews directions for every aspect of their lives. This weekend’s reading from Exodus addresses very specific realities in life, such as the lending of money. 

Primary in the Hebrew religion from the beginning was a respect for each person, but a respect founded on the notion of God as Creator and final governor of human lives.

Every person has the right to be respected and treated justly. No one can be exploited or mistreated, not even strangers, and not even enemies.

Of course, the details are important, but even more important is total human obedience to God and to God’s law.

For the second reading, the
Church presents a reading from
Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians. In this epistle, the Apostle Paul’s advice is firm. He urges obedience to God, without exception, compromise, or qualification.

Paul offers his own devotion
to the Lord as an example. Following Jesus brings joy, the apostle insists.

Bearing witness to Christ, evangelization, to use a theological term often appearing in modern times, is an opportunity for Christians. Paul urged the Christian Thessalonians to be a model for all the people of Macedonia and Achaia. He tells the Thessalonians that their faith, their turning away from idols, was an inspiration to many.

St. Matthew’s Gospel provides the last reading. It is a familiar and beloved text.

Often seen as an effort to trick Jesus, the question of the Pharisees in this story may have had a more pragmatic purpose. The Pharisees were teachers, constantly instructing others about the law of Moses, and constantly calling others to obey this law. Reducing any teaching to a summary is always a good educational technique. Even so, goodwill cannot be assumed without any other possibility. After all, many Pharisees disliked Jesus and would have liked to discredit the Lord’s message if at all possible.

The Lord’s reply is obvious. It certainly is no departure from, or repudiation of, Jewish religious tradition since it echoes ancient and fundamental Jewish belief.

More broadly, the Lord’s lesson is directly to the point. God is supreme. The true disciple must reach every decision with the standard of love for God, uncompromised and absolute, first in their minds.

Bluntly speaking, true discipleship means active respect for every other person, since every human being is God’s treasured creation. God’s law is supreme and a mandate to love others.


True Christianity is more than an intellectual assent to certain theological propositions. While the creed of the Church is vital, Christianity means a way of life and a state of mind, a heartfelt, personal choice to recognize God’s supremacy. Christianity is more than lip service.

It means loving others as God loves them, caring for others, always resisting any effort to belittle or exploit others. So, First Thessalonians reminds us Christians of the need to bear witness forever to God’s love and justice.

This does not necessarily mean that people agree with one another. People have various experiences. They have their minds that judge things. The opinions of one are rarely shared by all.

Anger, bitterness, and often even hatred fill public discourse. As far as politics is concerned, it is a tragic departure from what was once the case. People with differing viewpoints respected each other.

This descent into ugliness is affecting private thoughts and statements.

Christians have the duty to show, and ask for, God’s love for all.

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