Loving God and Loving our Neighbour
Love resumes the whole of Christian Scriptures, Revelation and all the Laws of God and the Church that exist. Loving God and loving our neighbour is the heart of our daily lives, the springboard of our actions, the basis of our decisions, the reason for our prayer life, the motivation of our lifestyle and the very reason why we live together on earth. Responding to the question of the Teacher of the Law today: ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’, Jesus stressed the direct relationship between love of God and love of neighbour. He explained that the rest of the laws are based on the two. They are like the hinges on which the entire law hung.
The first letter of John beautifully presents God as love: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). In the same light, it is out of love that God sent us his Son: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should … have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). We love primary God; but it is inseparable from our love of others or all humans. Christian love also assumes attitudes of goodness and compassion to the more fragile, weak and broken human persons as recommended by the First reading.
In the Gospel of today, Jesus unites two key passages in the Old Testament to give a smooth synthesis of LOVE: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:4-5) and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 19:18; cf. Mk 12:29-31).
How do we love God? By keeping his commandments found in the sacred scriptures especially as resumed in the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. But how do we love our neighbour? Still found in the New Testament, particularly in Mt 25, we can follow what the church calls the Corporal Works of mercy : To feed the hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To harbour the harbourless; To visit the sick; To ransom the captive; To bury the dead. Jesus also shared in the story of the Parable of the Good Samaritan to love everyone especially those who are in need even our enemies.
After such beautiful readings in today’s liturgy, we are challenged to put this love into practice. This recommendation can be our litmus test: make a special effort to love the person whom you find it difficult to love.
Fr Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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