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GREATEST COMMANDMENT - PART II
32nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B
If you are given the privilege to make a binding law to your own place what would it be? Here’s a list of some craziest laws ever made in the State of California:
· A regulation in San Franciscomakes it unlawful to use used underwear to wipe off cars in a car wash.
· Baldwin Park: Nobody is allowed to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool.
· Blythe: You are not permitted to wear cowboy boots unless you already own at least two cows.
· Burlingame: It is illegal to spit, except on baseball diamonds; Carmel Ice cream may not be eaten while standing on the sidewalk; Women may not wear high heels while in the city limits.
· In Los Angeles courts it is illegal to cry on the witness stand.
· In Los Angeles a man is legally entitled to beat his wife with a leather belt or strap, but the belt can't be wider than 2 inches, unless he has his wife's consent to beat her with a wider strap. Consent should be given prior to the event, as is carefully stipulated.
· In Riverside, California, kissing on the lips, unless both parties wipe their lips with carbonized rose water, is against the local health ordinance.
· San Diego: The owners of houses with Christmas lights on them past February second may be fined up to $250.
· The city of San Francisco holds a copyright on the name "San Francisco." It is illegal to manufacture any item with the name without first getting permission from the city. Since the Supreme Court upheld the copyright, San Francisco has had an annual $300 million surplus every year.
Crazy as they may sound, they can also be confusing especially if you put them all together. Such was the case of one the Scribes in today’s Gospel, who may have been so confused about the number of laws he knew of that he wanted Jesus to simplify it for him. Interestingly, the scribe appears not to test Jesus, but rather, to learn like one of his disciples. For his benefit, Jesus clarified the true essence of the LAW: “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength,” then moves to the second, “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He was saying that practical love goes above pure and to the letter observance of the LAW. I think that this Gospel passage is very timely. After Respect Life month; the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; and the coming election on Tuesday, we are reminded of our PRIMARY Christian life duty. It is not OBEDIENCE of the LAW but rather, TO LOVE. Let me illustrate:
First, Jesus urges his disciples to go far deeper than legal observances.Jesus wants us to be motivated by love, to live loving lives, to care and to unselfishly give of ourselves to others and to our Father in heaven. This is a way of living that no law can motivate or impose on us. This way of living puts greater demands on us. Looking at law in this way enables us to love God more fully not because of fear of punishment but because we are driven out of love for God and our neighbors.
Suppose we lived in a society where everyone strictly observed all of its laws. Everyone would behave well, but would such a world be filled with happiness? Jesus wants more from us. Living in strict observance of laws would be good, but would we be living in a world of love? Would it be a loving and caring world, or would it be simply a world in which nobody broke any laws? Jesus wants the best from us, not just our minimum performances.
Our brothers and sisters in the East Coast are greatly affected by hurricane Sandy, if we observe the law of love, there's no need to remind ourselves of our duty to help. Out of love, we should be drawn to help ... to love!
Second, Jesus implies AUTHENTIC FREEDOM as we follow the law. The coming election this Tuesday is a call for every Catholic voter to exercise authentic freedom through political judgment or in Church parlance, prudential judgment. Prudence is a virtue, a habitual good action, which as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “disposes a person to discern the good and choose the correct means to accomplish it.” (1806). Voting, in other words, is an exercise in moral judgment. George Weigel says in his article at the National Catholic Register, “Campaign 2012 - What Voting Means,” “Serious Christians for whom love of the Lord Jesus and fidelity to his Kingdom measure all our other loves and loyalties, vote with their brains, not with their emotions.”
As you go out to vote this Tuesday, always remember to think about the ff.: 1. It IS an exercise of your freedom to vote and so VOTE!; 2. LOOK at the background of the candidates, their policies and what they stand for (Do they embody the Catholic Social Teaching?); 3. DISCERN more carefully whom to vote as you consider (#2); 3. TAKE INTO ACCOUNT the medium and long-term future of what kind of country your children and grandchildren will inherit as your candidate may be politically shortsighted and morally simple-minded; 5. Most importantly, GAUGE you judgment according to their capacity to exercise authentic freedom, to love like Jesus Christ, as he commanded us: "This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you."
Again, quoting Weigel, "The voting booth isn't the confessional. But like the confessional, it should be entered after serious moral reflection and prayer.
Third, Jesus implies His very the Person in the law. By teaching, living and perfecting the true and faithful spirit of the Old Covenant, Jesus himself became our New Covenant. Jesus Christ is now our Law. How did this happen? Our source of guidance is found in Jesus Christ. He perfected the Old Covenant in a way by telling us that our way to the Father is Himself and that when we love Him, we too, will love His Father who is in Heaven. He is the living sign that connects us to God in love.
We all know full well what we do or don’t do. And we all know what others do or don’t do. God, however, is more interested in what He finds in our hearts. Do we simply obey rules, or do we choose to live in love and concern for others? That’s a question the answer to which can only be found deep down in your heart – where you really live.
Laws are made not to enslave us. Laws are made to make it easier for us to exercise our Christian duty TO LOVE. As St. Augustine puts it, "LOVE and DO what you WILL." If you love in the very sense of the Gospel, you can't go wrong in the exercise of your freedom.
God bless us all!