THIRTY FIRST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – ORDINARY WEEK B
Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Hebrew 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34
Quite often the word ‘love’ is heard, read and even said amongst the people and most of all it is shown through attitudes and deeds in the lives of most people of faith. How often we hear about love in sermons, how deeply the communication media such as video clips, movies, dramas, etc. have explored it but still the subject of love comes up again in today’s liturgy.
The relation between God and man is a relationship of love of God. Because loving God and loving our neighbour are inseparable twins that form the inseparable core of Christian life. These two go together. We cannot reject God in favour of our neighbour, nor reject our neighbour in favour of God. Jesus therefore, repeating the old law, ask us to love God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our mind and all our energies. This is the first and the greatest commandment which is our highest ideal. If we love God with our whole being, we will worship Him even when we work, pray to Him whenever opportunity arises, read His words as well as articles, bulletins, and listen to His voice just as we listen to radio and television sets.
God could have given a limited portion of His love to men, be content with whatever gifts of God’s love they could receive in this world. However God’s love, being infinite, went far beyond this as regards men. God gave men the faculties which place them away above all other earthly creatures. God made men capable of appreciating love and of reciprocating it – something the other creatures on earth cannot do.
But we cannot love God in a vacuum and so the love command says that we love God by loving others as ‘ourselves’, otherwise our love will become too spiritual in a ‘holy sense’ whereas we ought to be biblically holy which means facing up to the totality of love which includes neighbours. Hence, let’s imagine how our love of God would look like, if it had human form; it will have hands to help others, feet to hasten to the needy, eyes to see the misery of the poor and ears to hear the sighs of the sorrowful.
Without love of God, our love of neighbour would become shallow and formalistic; but without love of neighbour, our love of God can become self-centred and individualistic, thus separating religion from life. Hence, however hard it may be, we have to be constantly moving our religion from our throats to our muscles.
However, the supreme example of this two-faced love is to be found only in Jesus, for only in Him do we see a person, so caught up in the love of God as well as driven by the love of neighbour that, “He is able to save those who approach God through Him” (Heb. 7:25)
How privileged we are when compared with the Chosen People of the Old Testament. We must realise that God’s plan for man’s salvation was put into operation gradually – as He found men’s minds fit to receive His salvation. We are Christian today because God wanted it so from all eternity. We, on the other hand, will be expected to make a return to Him in proportion to the many talents He has given us.
The solid foundation of our Christian religion is love of God and neighbour. There is no other commandment greater than these. All the other commandments are expressions of these two and indications of how we are to put these two commandments into daily practice. We are all fellow-children of God, members of the one family. Our heavenly Father loves each one of us and wants our salvation. If we observe these two commandments, we are ‘fulfilling the whole law and the prophets’’ We are serving God and showing our gratitude to Him for all His goodness to us.
Loving God and loving neighbour have been likened to the vertical and the horizontal parts of the cross. One directs us upward to God, while the other directs us horizontally toward our fellowmen.
Loving God is not an easy task. In fact, it is impossible without God’s grace. But God will give it freely and generously if we sincerely ask for it.
Richard Jomiji Kinsil
St. Michael’s Parish Penampang.