LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOUR

THEME: LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOUR
READINGS: Deuteronomy 6:2-6 / Hebrews 7:23-28/ Mark 12: 23-28
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, when we cherish portable devices for the sake of convenience and effective utility, we should be able to appreciate today’s message:  Jesus says that all the commandments of God have been reduced to the one commandment of love. This commandment is more portable than a laptop, an iPad or even the smallest mobile phone, because we do not need a bag or a purse or even our hands to carry it – it is carried in the heart. Therefore, as long as we have a heartbeat, the commandment of love can be used anytime and anywhere. It does not operate on an internet or phone network which could be interrupted. Also, it requires no man-made technological data (credits) to function but the free grace of God.

TWO DIMENSIONS OF THE LOVE COMMANDENT

As a network allows us to communicate with both the network service provider as well as with others (friends, family, etc.) so the one commandment of love has two dimensions:  to love God (who is the Love-Net service provider) and to love our neighbours (family, friends, etc.).

FIRST DIMENSION: LOVE OF GOD

In today’s first reading, Moses instructed the Israelites about the preeminent commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). At the time Moses delivered this message, the concept of the “heart” among his people included the thinking faculty. However, centuries later, when Jesus addressed His people, a distinction had been made between the “heart” and the “mind”. Hence, Jesus stated the first commandment as follows: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This commandment means that we are to love God with our whole being; we cannot, for instance, pretend that we love God with our heart, while our mind doubts His existence.

“WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART” – The heart signifies our will, feelings or desires. Therefore, God should be our first and most prominent desire. We should let Him capture our feelings and desires, as well as submit to His will our choices or decisions in life. 

“WITH YOUR WHOLE SOUL” – Firstly, the soul signifies our life (as no one can be alive without the soul).  So, to love the Lord God with our whole soul means that we should offer our whole life to Him. Secondly, the soul is our spiritual self. Therefore, to love God with our whole soul is to entrust our entire spiritual self to Him through total devotion in worship.

“WITH YOUR WHOLE MIND” – The mind means our intellect, thoughts, reasoning or knowledge. If there is only one thing or person we should think about, it must be God. Therefore, let us seek to know Him more and more through His Word, our prayers and the preaching of His ministers. Again, each day let the thoughts of God dominate our thinking.

SECOND DIMENSION: LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR

On the one hand, we cannot communicate with others via, for instance, mobile phones if in the first place the network system had not been invented.  On the other hand, we do not get connected to a network simply to communicate with the provider.  In reality, we communicate more with others than with the service provider. So, after commanding us to love God, Jesus immediately added: “and the second commandment is like it: you shall love your neighbour as yourself”. (He took this from Lev. 19:18.)

What, then, does it mean to love our neighbour? Jesus says: if he/she is hungry, feed him/her; if he/she is thirsty, give him/her water; if he/she is naked, clothed him/her; if he/she is sick, visit him/her; if he/she is imprisoned, visit him/her; if he/she is stranded, welcome and help him/her (cf. Matt. 25:40-45). In short, be kind and compassionate to them as you wish should be done to you when in need.

St. Paul, in turn, explains what love of neighbour is.  In the first place, he says that: “Love is patient and kind” (1 Cor. 13:4).  He further explains that to love someone is to avoid doing him/her any evil: “Love does not envy; it is not rude; not selfish; it does not keep a record of wrong things; it does not rejoice in the downfall of the other …” (1 Cor. 13:5-7; see also Rom. 13:8-10).

CONCLUSION

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, while we “communicate” love to God (the Love-Net service provider) through prayer and worship, let us “communicate” love to others through charity, patience, thoughtfulness, etc. for we are all on the same Love-Net of God. This is how we can fulfill all the commandments of God 24/7. Amen.

By Fr. John K. Louis

Fr. John Louis

Very Rev. Fr. John Kobina Louis is a priest of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the liturgical year by Rev. Fr. Dr. John Kobina Louis of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.