Fifteenth Sunday of the Year – July 14, 1974 – CNR
We are addressed today by three of the more remarkable of the passages in Scripture. The text from Deuteronomy appears in a liturgical context in which Moses, having given at length the law of life, now calls upon the people to “heed the voice of the Lord,” and to “return to the Lord, your God, with all your hearth and all your soul.” The law set before them is not beyond them, incomprehensible, impossible, distant: God himself has brought it close: “It is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
That text seems to anticipate the New Testament.St. Paul referred to it in the letter to the Romans and applied it to Christ. And we might use that reference to address the beautiful hymn he quotes in our second reading today. For here we see that this law of God’s closeness has been followed to the point of God’s bringing all things into oneness in his Son, Jesus Christ This text, speaking of nothing less than the origin, consistency, and goal of the universe, refers us, not to distant and gnostic realms, but to the Lord Jesus, and calls us to believe that the fabric of the universe and the fate of history center upon him and upon the cross which has gained our peace.
And, finally, the Gospel-passage does not leave the first and greatest of the commandments in the abstract; rather, just as the Word became flesh in Jesus Christ, so the commandment becomes flesh in our needy neighbor. You do not need to go off to the heavens, then, to find the call of love, nor need you think of world-overturning projects. You will meet your call on your walk, perhaps to somewhere else, and all the meaning of your life will be summed up in your response, when you show to whom you will be a neighbor.
These texts, then, are rich and we should permit them this morning to turn our minds away from what we may normally be about and to let them speak to us. Let us find God’s voice speaking in them, and let us praise him for coming so close to us, thank aim for the gift of his Spirit in our own hearts, and return to him loving the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and strength and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves.