30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 29, 2017

On Days of Our Lives, the daytime drama I have watched on TV for more than 30 years, a common plot device is amnesia. Every once in a while, someone in the show’s large cast of characters has a traumatic experience that leaves him or her without any memory of who he or she is, causing great distress to family and friends.

Today we hear Jesus say the familiar words, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But sometimes loving our neighbors is quite a challenge for us, particularly when those around us are very different from us. Even before we get to know our neighbors, we notice the things that make us different–language, culture, religion, certain values—and we can focus on those things, allowing them to separate us.

When that happens, however, I think we are suffering from a kind of amnesia; we are forgetting who we are. Just as in our first reading God reminds the Israelites, “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt,” God reminds us of our history. Aside from Native Americans—who were made to feel different in their own land—all here either came from somewhere else or had ancestors who came from somewhere else and were made to feel different from those already here. And who among us has not felt different at one time or another because of physical appearance, a personal struggle, an unusual interest, or some other characteristic that sets him or her apart from other people? Who among us has not felt different because of a new school, a new job, a new home?

As different as we may be from our neighbors, we all share, along with our common humanity and our privileged status as children of God, a history of being different. When we come to that realization, we may just get a little closer to seeing our neighbors as people we can love.

see Matthew 22:34-40; Exodus 22:20-26

By: Rev. Gregory Kimm

Comments are closed.