Exodus 22:20-26; Ps 18:2-4, 47, 51; 1 Thess 1:5c-10; Mat 22:34-40
Our “God light” becomes brighter as we reflect on the simple yet profound way of God’s love for us. Jesus’ public life fulfilled all the Old Testament laws. Good and devout Israelites were to keep 613 commands found in the first five books of the Old Testament, not just the 10 commandments. In today’s section of St. Matthew 22:34-40, a Pharisee, a scholar of the law, to test Jesus, asked what was the greatest of all the commandments. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. We are to love God with our whole being and love our neighbor as ourselves. This is simple yet not so simple.
St. John tells us in his first letter, as do other New Testament texts.
“Love, then, consists in this: not that we have loved God but that he has loved us and has sent his Son as an offering for our sins,” 1 Jn 4:10.
Then John goes on to say:
“Beloved, if God has loved us so, we must have the same love for one another,” 1 Jn 4:11.
Jesus said in the gospel today that these two commandments fulfill all the laws and the prophets.
Reflecting on human love, there are various ways of looking at it from Greek and Roman philosophy and our modern culture. Much of it is self-seeking pleasure, which can harm others. There are so many books, plays, movies and much music written about love. A need to be loved was placed in all of us by our Creator. We all want to be loved and respected for who we are.
Our faith gives us a divine perspective. God loved us first and asks that we love him in return. As we receive more of his divine love, in all of the sacraments of his church and our prayer lives, he tells us to share it with our fellow human beings.
St. Paul gives us 16 characteristics about how God’s love is expressed. These are the positive definitions St. Paul gave us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Love is: patient, kind, respectful of others, humble, sensitive, courteous, helpful, understanding, forgiving, compassionate, truthful, ready to make allowances, ready to trust, optimistic, persevering and lasts forever. These expressions are God’s definitions of divine love placed in us.
The more we are filled up, the more these graces flow out of us when we are with others who have less of his love. When we come home we are drained and need to go back to God to get filled up again.
Jesus told us at one point that “what we do to others we do to him.” None of us is a perfect lover. The more of this kind of love we have received from our parents, family and friends, the more we are sure of who we are and what great gifts are within us. Then we have more capacity to love others as we love ourselves.
There is a priority list in sharing God’s love. We can’t save the entire world. We start with our primary priorities and work out from there: our spouse, children, work, fiends, church and offer a general daily prayer for all the others.
St. Francis once said, “Let us begin brothers, for until now we have done little.” God our Father, please fill us to overflowing with more of Your love so we can be better instruments of Your love in our world.
Please keep studying and praying about whom God wants you to vote for in the mid-term election. Check your diocesan paper or a Catholic Voters Guide for your state on the internet. Make sure to vote. It is critical for our country.
Thank you in Jesus Name,