Strangers and Sojourners

Have you ever been in a place where you feel as though you are out of place? Not unwelcomed in a broad sense, but a bit of an intruder. The realization can come upon you unexpectedly and you enter into a liminal space where time freezes and you quickly process what is unfolding. You are entering a party at the home of a friend and you sense these folks are not your familiars. You feel under-dressed – too casual in a room full of fashionistas. A beer-will-be-just-fine person in a room of upscale wine aficionados whose vocabulary is foreign. Surrounded by discussions of foreign films among people for whom “the MCU” has no meaning. But it was your good friend who invited you and has warmly welcomed you. Continue reading

A question of neighbor

This coming Sunday is the 31st Sunday in Year B. Our gospel is taken from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus is asked which of the commandments is the first and greatest. Having answered the inquiry with respect to the commandment to love God as the first commandment, Jesus adds: “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Lev 19:18)  Many people think that this was a response unique to Jesus, but as noted in yesterday’s post, when challenged by a Gentile, Hillel the Elder (ca. 40 B.C.-A.D. 10) replied: “What you yourself hate, do not do to your neighbor: this is the whole Law, the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.” This was Hillel’s summary of the whole Law which, for the observant Jew, is rooted in the love of God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, the Shemaʿ ). The sense of there being the two great commandments was already present in Jewish thought. Continue reading