"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.
We are living in challenging times. We are dealing with a difficult economic situation, with inflation impacting all of us. We hear over and over the perils of global warming. We recently lived through a pandemic. And now wars are flaring up around the globe.
It's easy to get so caught up in this kind of news that we lose heart. Jesus says to each one of us today: Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose heart.
If you are focused on the world's problems, he tells us you
are focused on the wrong thing. The most important commandment our God has
given us is to LOVE.
Jesus is saying our call in life is to love God and each
other … period.
The good news of our faith is that this love we are called
to is not one way. God never gives up on us. God never stops loving us. He is
always seeking us out, patiently offering His love for us. When we love God
with our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole soul, when loving God and
each other becomes the focus of our lives, the problems of the world fade into
The love Jesus speaks of is not mere sentiment. He is asking
us to make a total commitment to God, to love God and each other, to make this
the focus of our lives.
He is calling us to make loving God our highest priority. And
then to express that love through loving actions towards others. If we truly
love God, we will love everyone God loves, even those who are, for us, rather
About 100 years after the time of Christ, a non-Christian named
Aristides wrote to Emperor Hadrian describing how the early Christians lived.
Listen to these words. They tell us what we are called to be like.
Aristides said to the Emperor, "Christians love one
another. They never fail to help widows. They save orphans from those who would
hurt them. If a Christian person has something, he gives to a person who has
nothing. If they see a stranger, Christians invite them to come into their home
and consider them a brother or a sister. If they see someone who is ill or
someone who is in prison, they go visit them. If they hear that one of them is
in great tribulation, they will give that person all that he or she needs.
These Christians are a new kind of people. They seem to be filled with the
Spirit of God! There is something Divine in them.”
This description by Aristides is what we, as followers of
Christ, are called to be. That is what Jesus is talking about today: loving our
God and loving each other. If we make that our priority, it changes us. We see
the world differently. We live out our call to LOVE. It may not change the
world, but it will undoubtedly change us; it will change OUR WORLD.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves means seeing and treating
others with the respect and love that God gives them.
As Christians, we don't want to waste our lives. We know in our hearts that what Jesus says today is true.We know Jesus is right when he says the only path to life is loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. We want to do something and not just talk about it.
So what are we to do?
First, we must let God's love enfold us. In the embrace of
him, who sees everything yet loves us nonetheless, we find the power to act. The
power to give ourselves to one another. And in doing that, we'll find the joy
we long for.
Trust in God’s love for you. Trust the full extent of it.
Let him enfold you completely, and the power to love with all your heart will
follow. Living in this world of love, it becomes much easier to – as the great
saint Padre Pio said – pray, hope, and don't worry.
Always remember God loves you and wants your love in return.