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THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
The Greatest Commandment
30th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
What is love? During the first week of this month as we started Respect for Life month, I have shared to many parishioners how important it is to have a clearer understanding of what this word really means. As Catholics, our own understanding must always be patterned after the very examples of Christ.
I heard this very interesting story from one of the speakers during our 1-week Convocation in Monterey early this week:
A married couple was on vacation and as they shared wine together at table, the wife suddenly said, “You know how sweet you are and how much I really, really love you, right?” The husband was surprised about the remark coming from his wife and so he responded, “Oh, is it YOU talking or is it the wine?” The wife with a smile on her face replied with confidence, “Oh, dear, it is me TALKING … TO THE WINE!”
Moral of the story? Do not buy good but cheap wine during your honeymoon! As we understand the true essence of love in our Gospel this Sunday, it is also important to know to whom such love is directed to. Is it me loving the person who drinks the wine or me loving the beautiful wine? Let me point out the two significant aspects of the greatest commandment as Jesus puts it:
First, as the Scripture narrates it, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Luke10:27) Loving God in such a way means putting God above anything else. He must always be first priority in our lists of priorities. As His creatures, we should realize dependence on Him believing that we could not do anything without Him. We should therefore keep the commandments by first acknowledging His Lordship through prayer and worship and exercise the so-called ends of prayer: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication (ACTS). In other words, fulfill our duties to God (vertical dimension) not so in order to please Him as He doesn’t need that, but to express the same love that He gave to us from the very start.
Second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Seeing an Almighty God who is loving, merciful and kind, we should also see Him in our neighbors, who are by nature a reflection of the goodness of God. Loving our neighbors entails our unceasing support without any reservations as well as prejudices in terms of color, race, gender, age, wealth or social status. Jesus has loved us unconditionally and as a model we are also asked to follow suit.
Together with this is, of course, the important aspect of conversion or a change of heart which starts through forgiveness of oneself as well as others. Time is so short to hold grudges on our neighbors. True forgiveness begets peace, love and an ongoing love for mankind. When we forgive, we give ourselves in humility in order that peace may prevail and that we become worthy sharers of such peace.
Love in the Christian perspective is the “total giving of oneself to another.” By total, we mean, WHOLE, ENTIRE with neither reservations nor conditions … it is ONE! That is why in marriage, the TWO become ONE because they both share in the one love founded on God, who is a communion of THREE Persons, and yet ONE in God-ness. This Sunday, let us make sure that we exercise our duty to love in the way Christ have set as an example. Let us exercise our love in total self-giving. Let us love God and our neighbors. Our neighbors, which could include the “aliens” (first reading: Exodus 20:22-26) among us: the oppressed, the poor, the neglected, the needy, the immigrants as the reading imply. So are you ready to love? Are you ready to give yourself totally to your neighbors? Is it you LOVING the one who drinks the wine or you LOVING the WINE DRINKER?