24 October 2020

"You shall love..."

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

-St. Matthew 22:37-40

Our Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear to us: we cannot claim to love God if we don't love our neighbor. On these two commandments -- the love of God and the love of the neighbor -- the entire Law and the Prophets depend. They’re like twin hooks that hold up the entire Law of God. So Jesus teaches that the entire law of God can be boiled down to two simple commandments. 

Love God with your whole being. Love those whom God puts in your path as much as you love yourself. 

St. Paul wrote to the Romans: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law…” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. In that way, the Law comes down to one word: Love. 

People often misunderstand what love is. They think of it as a particular feeling. But Jesus teaches us that love isn’t just a feeling. Love is an orientation of the will in action toward another. To love is to be turned inside out, toward someone outside of yourself - toward God, toward your neighbor. 

 As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Jesus has linked love of our neighbor with our love of God. We love God by loving our neighbor, even when it’s not convenient. The cup of water we give to someone who is thirsty, we’ve given to God. The food we give to the hungry, we’ve given to God. So if we haven’t given the cup of water or the morsel of food where it’s needed, and it’s within our capability to do so, then we’ve denied it to God.

We’re a people who are called to love. Not the squishy-fuzzy-warm feeling kind of love, but a manly and active love, a love that does the right thing. When we love, it’s because we have first been loved by God in Christ Jesus. His death and resurrection free us to love God and to love our neighbor. No longer do we love just because we have to; we love because now we’re actually able to love. 

We love because God has loved us in Christ with the greatest love we will ever know - the crucified love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

O Almighty and most merciful God: of thy bountiful goodness keep us, we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things which thou commandest; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.