Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A little joke written by Noah Hart:

Carpooling to work, a man got increasingly stressed with each trip. After a week of panic attacks, he went to the doctor. “I’m fine on the bridges, in the traffic and even in the dark after a long day,” the man explained. “But when I go through tunnels with those four other guys, I feel like I’m gonna explode. Am I crazy?” “Not at all,” the doc said. “You just have CARPOOL TUNNEL SYNDROME.”

I know, another stupid joke! But I picked this one to emphasize the point that we all might get to the point that we might panic when life hits us hard, and things simply do not make sense to us.

In our first reading from Exodus, we hear of the people Israel being at the base of Mount Sinai. There they accept the challenge to serve God, who alone has delivered them from captivity and protected them thus far along their journey to the promised land. They are reminded of how good God is to them — and even though they were considered aliens in the land of Egypt — they are now the Chosen children of God, and will receive His generosity and protection. Because of this, they all must promise (make a Covenant) with God to protect the less fortunate of the family of God, namely the widow and the orphan, those who had no one to otherwise provide for them. This responsibility is seen as vital in the eyes of God, and if someone does not do what is expected, it would be a reason for them to panic.

So, we skip ahead in time, and we find Jesus, within the Gospel of Matthew, who always likes a little controversy. Jesus had just silenced the Sadducees, and we see a group of Pharisees hanging around in the temple courtyard discussing which Law of the Covenant was the most important — something they did on a regular basis — and look who they catch walking nearby, this one they call Jesus, let’s see what he has to say about this question.

Jesus looks at them with pity, seeing that they not only should have known, but also be the ones who sets the example for others to follow.

A little history — Judaism believed that, in addition to the Torah, Moses also received from God 613 oral laws. 248 positive ones and 365 negative ones.

So, a scholar of the law, a scribe, tests Jesus regarding which law is the greatest. Jesus does not just have an opinion, he does the obvious thing, he quotes scripture: 

Deuteronomy 6:5…

Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord our God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your strength.

and Leviticus 19:18…

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Once Jesus combined these two teachings, the scribe along with the Pharisees had reason to panic. Everything made sense! Their hypocrisy was made apparent.

This became solid orthodoxy for not only Judaism, but also for Matthew’s Jewish Christian community.

My brothers and sisters, simply keep this Golden Rule as the Law of your lives, and there will be no reason to panic. And, if for some reason you do — do not worry, you too might just have CARPOOL TUNNEL SYNDROME.

Readings for Sunday, October 25, 2020