Sunday, October 26, 2014
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Exodus 22:20-26
2nd Reading: 1st Thessalonians 1:5-10
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. One of them, a teacher of the Law, tried to test him with this question, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law?”
Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the most important of the commandments. But after this there is another one very similar to it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole Law and the Prophets are founded on these two commandments.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
Jesus described love of neighbor as one “very similar” to love of God. Qualifying the word “similar” with “very” still leaves unsettled the exact level of correspondence between love of God and love of neighbor. Are they 90% similar? Why didn’t he simply say both are the same?
Equating love of neighbor with love of God may not be proper because experience tells us that not all those who love their neighbors love God. Similarly, equating love of God with love of neighbor may be improper because we know of many people who love God but hate their neighbors. With the foregoing considerations we should just stick to the words “very similar”.
When something is very similar to another, that similarity imposes upon the minds of observers the presence of that other. Love of neighbor should be “very similar” to love of God because we are supposed to love others in a manner very similar to how we love God. In other words our love towards our neighbors should approximate our level of love towards God such that whoever experiences our love also feels like he is loved like a god. Jesus was more explicit when he said that whatever we do to the least of our brothers we do unto him. In a word, our love for others should be to the degree that befits him. When we can love everyone this way, we arrive at the similarity that Jesus would like us to achieve.
Is it possible for human beings like us to arrive at this similarity? Why can’t we just love some and hate the others? Can’t we just love the more deserving ones and shun the others? Isn’t the requirement of loving the enemies too much to ask from human beings of vulnerable hearts? Isn’t the Love Commandment oppressive? Isn’t the command to love the same enemy who had wounded our hearts not a temptation to live a life of hypocrisy?
The foregoing questions are valid. That is why God so willingly provides the grace. At the start God had already bestowed will power upon us to empower us to swim against the tide of human weakness and love others the way God wants. Ascetics of the past built their spirituality upon this principle of swimming against the tide. By saying no even to things that are not sinful in themselves they built their will power to the effect that they became strong enough to say no to greater temptations. By building up our will power and by the grace which God so willingly bestows upon those who ask we can make our love of neighbor very similar to our love for God. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.frdan.org.
. Prayer for the day: God our Father, increase our love for one another and so deepen our love for you. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: Damian Dei Fulcheri, Religious. Damian was born at the beginning of the fifteenth century in Petri, Italy. He was an infant when kidnapped by a lunatic. After a long search, he was foundwith the help of a miraculous light that guided his searchers. Damian joined the Dominicans at Savona and preached throughout Italy. He died in 1484 at Reggio d’Emilia and public veneration of him was approved by Pope Pius IX in 1848.