“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus has a way of making it simple for us. In today’s Gospel, he provides the only two instructions we will ever need to enter the kingdom of heaven: love God completely; and love one another as much as you love yourself.
Easy enough to say. But not always easy to do, especially when we’re confronted with anything but love. Is Jesus asking too much of us? I don’t think so.
As faithful Catholics, we know our role is to witness God’s love and saving grace. That is our calling as missioners who have received the promise of salvation in Christ. To reach our reward, Jesus is asking us to literally practice our faith. The more we pray… the more we read scripture… the more we celebrate the sacraments—the closer we come to knowing and loving God. Then, when we have the strength of God’s love in our hearts, witnessing that love becomes second nature even when we are being challenged.
Today, Jesus is asking us to be our best in the world of faith—to love God with all our heart—and to do our best in the world of human relationships—by treating others the way we wish to be treated.
Fulfilling the second part of Jesus’ instruction—often called the Golden Rule—defines us as disciples who practice what we preach. It means bringing the world of faith into the temporal world: being good neighbors, good colleagues, and good citizens, too. Apropos of Election Day coming up, be conscious of the role you will play in “rendering onto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Vote your personal good, but remember the common good that benefits us all.
Friend, every saint, past and present, has shown us how to live the two Great Commandments: by worshipping God above all; and by being generous and compassionate disciples of the Lord in word and deed. So I invite you to witness God’s love and be at peace knowing that salvation is yours. That’s as simple as it gets.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Prayer for 4th Sunday
God of love, You commanded
we love You with all our hearts,
with all our minds, with all our strength,
and our neighbor as ourselves.
Help us then, to truly love ourselves
by casting off all chains of sin
and heal our wounded souls
with the sweet balm of Your presence.
Fill us with a hunger for prayer
a thirst for scripture
and a longing for communion
with You in the Blessed Sacrament.
Through these give us the strength
to serve You in and through our neighbors.
May we cross all human borders that
separate us from our brothers and sisters.
Prayer by Maryknoll Missioner, Father Joseph Veneroso