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 Imagining the Lectionary: The utter incongruity of faith devoid of practical compassion (Proper 25A; Ordinary 30A)

Reflection accompanying images “Autumn leaves in abandoned steel sink

 A pile of autumn leaves in the bottom of a kitchen sink is a profoundly incongruous and unexpected sight. The 'out of place-ness' of the heap of wet leaves is self-evident and the image surprises us because of it. Our curiosity is provoked to ask 'how come'. Yet it isn't the leaves but the sink unit which is out of place: it lies discarded as junk underneath deciduous trees at the side of a path and has now become a receptacle for their falling leaves.  This surreal conjunction fits well with the picture Jesus has in mind when he is questioned by his opponents concerning the essence of faith. They want to know which commandment is supreme. He knows that the genuineness of one's faith rests not upon the priority of one commandment over another in our minds, for the intellectual sterility of rank ordering does not save us. No, the real question concerns whether God's divine presence and purpose takes primary place at the heart of our lives in such a way that both we and the world are transformed by love. Such a wholehearted giving of ourselves to God through faithful lives of discipleship and service brings the reality of God's kingdom of love into plain sight. Because to love God is to love others, for that is how God delights in meeting us.  “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.

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