At The Heart Of Our Faith
“You shall love …”
In speaking English, we commonly use the one word “love” to express many different types of feelings and relationships: I love God, my family, the sisters in my religious community, my friends, and the people I serve through our mission. But I also love vanilla ice cream, walking in the park on a spring day, and watching a sunrise. Clearly, I have different levels of relationship with each of my “loves,” and they differ greatly in their importance to me. In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes to the heart of two of the most significant loves we can experience: love for God and for the people with whom we live.
Jesus presents us with a strong command to love God and our neighbor. He is not just suggesting or recommending this. Instead, Jesus requires his followers to live in love of God and neighbor. Jesus’ command to love and the witness of his own life show us that love is much deeper than warm, fuzzy feelings. Love for God and neighbor means freely choosing to make a gift of ourselves even when it is difficult and calls us to make sacrifices. Jesus himself tells us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).
Jesus inseparably unites the two commandments of love for God and neighbor, showing us that our love for God can never be separated from our love of neighbor. As a disciple of Jesus, each of us is called to communicate God’s love to our families, our communities, and our world.
Sometimes it can feel easier for me to love God in the quiet moments of prayer, and more difficult to love my neighbor in the midst of the daily struggles of life. This Gospel is a powerful reminder to me that true love of God requires and flows into love of my neighbor.
Jesus Master, your example and words show me how to grow in authentic love of both God and my neighbor. You show me that real love involves sacrifice and deep faith in your love for me. Help me, in my daily life, to be open to the experiences of love that you give me. May I learn from you how to love without limits or conditions, as you have loved me.
“God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God …” (1 Jn 4:16).
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 156–157). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.