The Gospel Today
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“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.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Reflection (Sem. Ivan Feniquito):
The Gospel for today speaks of the two greatest commandments: First, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind”. Second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” These two commandments invite me to recognize the unconditional love of God for me, and my love for my God and neighbors.
I do believe that a person who loves God genuinely and sincerely likewise loves his neighbor. It is because the person who loves knows that he should consider his neighbors as his brothers and sisters in Christ, and that they have the same Father. This relationship is rooted in the love of the Father and must radiate to each one of us. It is hard to believe that we love others for man’s sake without any reference to God. Love cannot be considered a genuine love if God is not present. On the other hand, if we say we love God, but we do not love our neighbor, it is not love at all. I remember a bible verse from the first letter of St. John that states, “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother of sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”(1 John 4:20) Our love to our neighbor is a clear indication how we really love God.
While reflecting on the Gospel, there are two words that caught my attention, LOVE and ALL. These words awaken my heart to fill it and use it. Filling it with the love of God and using it to love God and others.
First, let us talk about love. One of my favorite definitions of love can be found in the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is nor irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The first time I heard this scriptural passage was when I attended the “Christian Life Program” of the Singles for Christ. It was a series of talks, and in one session, the topic was about LOVE. At that time, my heart was full of pain, hatred, anger and darkness because of some worldly reasons. During those moments, I did not expect that the topic was about love, love, and love. My primary purpose of attending the program was to deepen my relationship with God. Nonetheless I have realized that God is really good; He will make a way to be closer to us, and to attend to our needs whether we deliberately ask for it or not. Going back, my feeling during the session was peace, I was crying, but my heart was leaping because of peace and joy. I really thanked God for the unexpected blessing that I received. I felt the love of God cuddling my broken heart, and fixing it with His love. What more can I ask for during that time, the love of God has filled my heart. I felt that the invitation for me was to forgive and love the person(s) who sinned against me, to forgive myself, to love myself and most of all, to love God with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind.
The second point is about the word “all.” Loving God is like giving my whole life, I cannot say that I love God if cannot give my all. The word Love is meaningless if I am just saying it and not doing it. I must love God with all I have and with all that I am. Also, I must love God with all things and in all things.
These two commandments are not coercive; God is not forcing us to love Him and to love others. God gives us freedom. It is also a grace. We are free to love God as much as He loves us. He loved us first and it is a blessing from God. Loving can be a very challenging thing to do with the modern world that affects us. But I do believe and pray for the grace to love God and to love my neighbor as I desire to love God with all my life.