31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (B):
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
- Summary of ideas today’s Sunday readings
- God’s Love for us is the cause which pushes us to love Him and our neighbor
- If the love of God is within us, we can love even those who do not deserve it.
The love of God and neighbor is the fundamental message of this Sunday.
- Thus, in the 1st reading: “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.”
- And in the Gospel, Jesus adds: “You will love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the basis of Christian morality, because all the other commandments are concrete forms of that love of God and neighbor.
- In addition, this is the basis of authentic worship of God: that love is worth more than all the holocausts and sacrifices.
- The Eucharist is the sacrament of the love of Christ who gave his body and shed his blood for our salvation. Thus, he exercises his priesthood that does not pass, offering himself in sacrifice once and for all (2nd reading).
Today’s Sunday Gospel (Mk 12:28-34) offers us Jesus’ teaching on the greatest commandment, the commandment of love, which is two-fold: love of God and love of neighbour.
In this regard, Pope Benedict XVI has presented to us the following ideas worthwhile to consider in our personal meditation.
- “The Saints, who we have recently celebrated together in a single solemn Feast are precisely those who, trusting in God’s grace, tried to live according to this fundamental law.
- In fact, those who live a profound relationship with God, just as a child becomes capable of loving, starting from a good relationship with his mother and father, may put the commandment of love fully into practice. St John of Avila, who I recently proclaimed a Doctor of the Church, writes at the beginning of his Treatise on the Love of God: “the cause”, he says, “that mostly pushes our hearts to love of God is considering deeply the love that He had for us…. This, beyond any benefit, pushes the heart to love; because he who gives something of benefit to another, gives him something he possesses; but he who loves, gives himself with everything he has, until he has nothing left to give” (n. 1).
- Before being a command — love is not a command — it is a gift, a reality that God allows us to know and experience, so that, like a seed, it can also germinate within us and develop throughout our life.” Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Nov. 4, 2012.
If the love of God has planted deep roots in a person, then he is able to love even those who do not deserve it, as God does us.
- Fathers and mothers do not love their children only when they deserve love; they always love them, though of course, they make them understand when they are wrong.
- We learn from God to seek only what is good and never what is evil. We learn to look at each other not only with our eyes, but with the eyes of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ. A gaze that begins in the heart and does not stop at the surface, that goes beyond appearances and manages to capture the deepest aspirations of the other: waiting to be heard, for caring attention, in a word: love.
- But the opposite is also true: that by opening myself to another, just as he or she is, by reaching out, by making myself available, I am also opening myself to know God, to feel that he is there and is good.
- Love of God and love of neighbour are inseparable and are mutually related. Jesus did not invent one or the other but revealed that they are essentially a single commandment and did so not only through the Word, but especially with his testimony: the person of Jesus and his whole Mystery embody the unity of love of God and neighbour, like the two arms of the Cross, vertical and horizontal.
- In the Eucharist he gives us this two-fold love, giving himself, because, nourished by this Bread, we love one another as he has loved us.
Dear friends, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we pray that every Christian may know how to show his/her faith in the one true God with a clear witness to love of neighbour.” Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Nov. 4, 2012.