Which is the most important?

Exodus 22:20-26 /1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10/Matthew 22:34-40

Here’s a true story!!!

Two holy monks in the desert
were staying with each other—
and they never ever quarreled—
not even once.

One day, one of the monks said the other,
“Let’s quarrel the way other people do.”

The other one answered back,
“I don’t even know how a
quarrel begins,
how do we even start one?”

The other said,
“I’ll put a brick between us
and I’ll say ‘it’s mine’—
then you say, ‘No, it is mine.”—
that, I think, is how a quarrel begins.

“Ok,” the other said,
“Let’s have a quarrel.”

And he placed a brick between them and said,
“It’s mine.”

And the other one said,
“No, it is mine.”

And then the first one said in reply,
“Yes, indeed it is; take it and go.”

And off they went,
finding nothing ever to quarrel about.

What a wonderful story.

I got from the Sayings of the
Desert Fathers and Mothers.

In the 4th century—
there was a group of serious, serious Christians
who fled the world—
they fled from society—
and they flew to the desert—
they flew to the desert in Egypt—
and they fled to the deserts in Palestine and Syria.

They fled society so they
could devote their lives to “God Alone.”

It was the beginning of the Monastic tradition
in all its many forms

Most of them, in the beginning were hermits—
they lived alone—
but they would find themselves a mentor—
another monk who had the
reputation of being wise and very holy.

And they would visited these wise
and holy men and women—
and they would ask for a “word”—
they would ask for some teaching on the Christian life.

And the Desert Father or Mother would
give them a word or a saying—
and the monk would go back to his cell—
and mediate on what they had been told them.

Eventually, the sayings of the most holy monks
were collected and published—
that’s where I got the story of the two monks who
didn’t how to quarrel with each other.

There was a sparcity
of words spoken in the desert.

A monk once came to Basil of Caesarea and said,
“speak a word, father.”

And Basil replied,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
with all your soul, and all your mind.”—
and the monk went to his cell.
20 years later—
20 years later he came back
and said, “Father, I have struggled to keep your word;
now speak another word to me.

And Basil said,
“You shall love the neighbor as yourself;”
and the monk returned to his cell and
for many more years to
mediated on the word of the elder.

The holiest of the Monks—
through prayer and mediating on
the Gospel and what their mentor told them
became living and breathing Gospels.

They took the Gospel seriously—
They took the Gospel literally—
And their lives became the Gospel.

One of the Fathers said,
“If a person demands something of you and
you are having a hard time surrendering it—
let your mind see it as a gift,
for it is written,
“Whoever asks you to go one mile,
go with him two.”
meaning if someone asks you for
something give it with all your heart.

It was the Gospel—
They tried to live it to the fullest!!!

Some robbers once came to
the cell of an elder and said to him,
“We have come to take everything in your cell.”

“Take whatever you please, my sons.”
So they took everything they found in his cell
and went on their way.

When the robbers left,
the elder realized that they
had missed a pouch that was hidden.

The elder quickly picked up the pouch and
ran out of his cell—
chasing down the robbers calling out,
“My sons, take this pouch that you missed.”

In their amazement at the holiness of
the elder, they restored everything to his cell and
apologized, saying to each other,
“This is a man of God.”

They went to seek God alone—
And their lives became a living Gospel.

This is one of my favorites.

A brother had slipped up,
so the monks called a council.

They sent for the wise and holy Abba Moses
to be part of the council—
but he refused to come.

So the priest sent for him, saying,
“the council is waiting for you.”

Abba Moses got up
and he took a basket that had
many with holes in it—
and he filled it with sand and carried it behind him.

Coming out to meet him,
the council said to him.
“What is this, Father?”

And Abba Moses said to them,
“my sins are running out behind me,
and I do not see them—
but I have come today to pass judgment on
the faults of another!”

After this,
the council said nothing to the
accused brother—
and they forgave him.

Read sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers-
They are incredible—
They’re inspiring—
and may even sound strange at times
because they took the Gospel so literally.

Thomas Merton said,
“Our time is in desperate need
of the . . . .simplicity [of the Desert Fathers.]” (The Wisdom of the Desert, 11)

You can see why I tell their stories today—
The day where Jesus gives us
the two great commandments:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
with all your soul, and all your mind”—
And “You shall love the neighbor as yourself.”

There is a reason why Jesus says
that the first is the most important—
the greatest commandment—
and that’s loving God.

It’s because the more we fall in love with God—
the more we fall in love with Jesus—
the more we love our neighbor.

The more we fall in love with God—
the more we fall in love with Jesus—
the more we love our neighbor.

Boy I know that’s so true in my own life—
when I’m not treating my neighbor the way
God asks me to treat them—
My relationship with God is not right—
it’s that simple for me.

And we don’t have to go all the back
to the 4th century to drive home the point.

Look at St. Mother Teresa—
Talk about loving her neighbors—
Look at what she did.
And her day was filled with God—
Adoration—mediation on scripture—
Mass—and hours of prayer.

And a final story from the Desert Fathers.

They used to say of Abbott Isadore . . .
that if anybody had a brother who
was weak, negligent, or insolent and
he wanted to throw him out,
the elder would say, bring him to me.

He would then take the brother
into a cell and save him through
long-suffering patience.

What is the most important law—
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
with all your soul, and all your mind.”

It is from that one that
the second one will flow.

The more we fall in love with God—
The more we fall in love with Jesus—
The more we love our neighbor.

Holy Spirit 10/27-28/2017

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