Saturday, October 27: Armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning, killing at least 11 congregants and wounding four police officers and two others, the authorities said.
Monday, October 29:A website popular with racists that was used by the man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was shut down within hours of the slaughter, but it hardly mattered: Anti-Semites and racists who hang out in such havens just moved to other online forums.
Wednesday, October 31: Hate crimes in the nation’s 10 largest cities increased by 12 percent last year, reaching the highest level in more than a decade, according to a report released Monday by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino.
"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
And Jesus adds: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
So we gather here today to worship the God who charged us to love one another as God loves us. From the "Breaking News" bombarding us each day, we tend to see the Great Commandment as some pie-in the sky ideal. It’s Jesus using “exaggeration for effect.” Jesus really didn’t mean to love everybody, did he? That’s just not humanly possible! I can see loving my family, my next door neighbor. But a Black man? A gay person? A Jew? A Muslim? Come on, this is 2018; it’s complicated. Jesus had no idea that one day a caravan of migrant families would threaten our nation!
When Jesus answers the scribe’s question, he is not stating something new. He is embracing as his own THE basic Jewish tenet, quoting the Hebrew Testament. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is known as the Shema Israel -- “Hear, O Israel.” Every Jew in Jesus’ time knew those words; every Jew today knows those words; every one of us knows those words! Shema Israel!
Jews wore – and still do wear– phylacteries, a miniature box worn on their forehead or bound on their wrists, which contained those very words. In Israel you’ll find on the doorpost of every hotel room, every restaurant, of every home of every devout Jew, an object called a mezuzah, which contains those same words.
We Catholics and all Christians have a similar symbol that we reverence because it embodies everything we believe as disciples of the Christ. THE CROSS!
Love others as I have loved you!
The cross is Jesus' way of reminding us that our love of God is manifest and fulfilled in the way we love others—as he loves us and as we love ourselves. And no reading of the Gospels can avoid what Jesus means by loving others as we love ourselves. He consistently lifts up the weak and the helpless.
The Gospels remind believers that actions speak louder than words -- that loving God with all our strength should translate into caring for the poor and the marginalized in the same way! We are reminded time and time again by the Scriptures that God hears their cries, and that our loving God requires that we do the same. Loving God with all our strength demands that we be responsive in addressing the needs of the poor with a compassion worthy of the God we profess to love.
To be blunt, something of a similar transformation should be taking place in us when we gather to share the Word and Break the Bread. The great commandment, the Shema Israel, cannot be an empty ritual. The Word must be made flesh in our lives. Depraved indifference to the collateral damage of prejudice, racism and all forms injustice cries to heaven for vengeance. We profess a profound respect for human life, and yet our personal and national greed, our addictive consumerism, our distorted patriotism are destroying our moral fabric.
We give thanks to God in this Eucharist, the memorial of Christ’s self-sacrificing love for all, by embracing the fullness of that love and not allowing our self-interest to blind us to the Great Commandment.