1st Reading Exodus 22: 20-26
2nd Reading 1 Thes 1: 5-10
Gospel Reading Matthew 22: 34-40
given by Fr. Joe Tedesco
Love has so many facets and meanings to it – but one that is most important is that love is an action. Love for God is translated into love of neighbor just as love for neighbor witnesses to the authenticity of our love of God. Our Actions flow out of our values – God is our highest value.
Jesus gives us the two great commandments as the summary of our whole life of faith. Indeed our worship of God expresses this truth that we love God with our whole heart, mind and soul. God receives our totality: All of our energy, all of our consciousness, all of our life. And this is also our challenge – to live our life for God alone – with everything.
The existential realities of this great commandment flow out of their interior qualities. The heart is full of compassion, the soul with desire, and the mind makes decisions. This helps us to move to the concrete, to the action of love.
We are invited to be in touch with our desire for God and with God’s desire for us which propels us to live with compassion and therefore to choose to act in love for others over and over.
This desire for God truly shapes our life. It is the core reality that gives life to our spiritual journey. St. Benedict in Chapter 4 of the Rule gives us the tools of our spiritual craft. He names this great commandment as the first tool for Good Works. So for Benedict all flows from this teaching.
And St. Bernard in his Spiritual Treatise of the Songs of Songs sees desire for God as the Key component in the journey and indeed his sermons are a teaching on the desire for God.
If we seek to find our fulfillment in coming close to God – desire for God is the experiential grasp of this truth. Keeping a hold on this truth is filled with challenges.
St. Paul praises the Thessalonians who were able against many obstacles to live the faith and became a model for other believers. We can do that too.
The Exodus reading reminds us that there is the link between our ritual and justice.
Faithfulness to God cannot be separated from our practice of justice in everyday life. How I treat others has a direct link to my relationship with God. St. Benedict again helps us here in his 12 steps of humility – this is how we put on the mind of Christ who humbled himself to be one with us and for us. We are called to do the same.
So concern for others shapes our worship of God.
Our worship brings us to a deeper desire for God and a heightened awareness of others which deepens our compassion and therefore our decision to act with justice. This is the cycle that is life giving to our faith. Our Sunday worship is the highpoint of this cycle.
So my brothers and sisters , How do we receive the needs of others, what is our response to all those who touch our life – locally and globally. Love says it all – love of God and love of others. This love is possible because God has loved us first.
Let us open ourselves even more to God’s love, and let our desire for God deepen so much – that we grow in our capacity to love others in return for so great a gift.