The God In Front Of Our Noses
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
I Samuel 3:3-10, 19
My dad wore reading glasses. One day he couldn’t find them. He searched the house high and low certain that someone, probably my mom, had moved them from their usual place. Complaining loudly, he finally walked into the kitchen demanding to know why my mother had moved his glasses and where she had put them. She looked up from her work and, giving him her best you poor dumb man look said, “For God’s sake, Walter, they’re on your nose.”
Missing the obvious is common. It happens in our faith lives. We hear repeated admonitions to practice some behavior or virtue and it becomes part of the wallpaper: always there, rarely noticed. Jesus agreed with the common rabbinical teaching that the central commandment of Jewish Law was to love God and one’s neighbor. We hear those words thousands of times and yet they sit hidden on our noses.
Part of the trouble is the unfortunate use of the word commandment referring to Jewish Law. We tend to react to law as an imposition on our freedom. What’s the fine for its infringement? How can we circumvent it? Jews, on the other hand, viewed The Law, at least in theory, as the road map for successful living. God had given it to them as their most precious possession. It advanced them above every other nation.
Loving God above all else meant recognizing that a Benevolent Being was behind all reality giving it meaning and direction. Aligning oneself with this Being was traveling the road to success. It was the height of common sense. Loving one’s neighbor as oneself was simply recognizing the fact that the Creator constructs life as a web in which, ultimately, for one to thrive all must thrive. The admonishment to love God and one another was like an admonishment to breathe: not some extraneous regulation but the simple encouragement to commit to life.
We spend a lot of time storming about our world looking for lost peace, misplaced civility, vanished resources sorely needed by millions. The solution isn’t missing. It’s Love God above all else and our neighbor as ourselves. What’s missing is the courage to acknowledge it.
Pray for courage.