IIllustration by Phil Younk
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Love makes the commandments work
Based on the Gospel of Matthew 22:34-40
Rules! Rules! Rules! We can’t get away from them.
There are times we all dislike rules and don’t like to be told what to do. But, rules keep us protected, safe and happy. The most important rules are God’s rules called the Ten Commandments. Studying the Ten Commandments, we see that the first three are about God and us and the other seven are about people and us.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks to us about the two most important commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Everything God expects from us, everything we have to do as children of God, depends on these two commandments. They actually sum up all Ten Commandments. The commandments are all about love. It is what makes the commandments work.
By loving God with all our heart, we will honor God’s name and keep God’s day holy. By loving our neighbor as ourselves, we will be obedient, kind, pure, respectful of what belongs to others, truthful, and satisfied with what we have and not want what isn’t ours.
Jesus knows that sometimes we feel like thinking only of ourselves and that showing love can be very difficult and complicated. It can demand great sacrifice on our part. But he promised he would never abandon us. Jesus gave us the church, the sacraments – especially the Eucharist – and the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us grow strong in our faith and make it easier to love God, others and ourselves every single day.
God’s love is a most special gift. It cannot be earned nor is it deserved. It is sharing in God’s life and marks us for God’s service. God’s love is not just for us individually but for everyone. We cannot love God without loving those whom he loves.
Loving others is not merely giving things to them. We must see others as persons whom God loves and whom we in turn must love. They may not be our favorite persons; they may even be our enemies; they may be persons who need our particular help – but God loves them. If God totally loves these persons so troublesome to us and we realize he accepts even us with all our faults, then we can surely try to love others.
We can consider the example of Blessed Mother Teresa. She constantly renewed her capacity to love others by her love for the eucharistic Lord. And, we need only to look at the crucifix to see the greatest example of love – Christ’s arms outstretched and open for love of each one of us – with no exclusions!
Unless love is shared, it cannot grow. Give away some special gifts of love this coming wee