I am sure that many of you have heard me speak have about the time after I was ordained a deacon when I was due to preach in a local parish near the seminary where I was training. Have a cup of tea in the kitchen before Mass the parish priest said encouragingly “I hope that you are not going to talk about this love stuff”. I remained quiet. Love was precisely the theme of my homily that day. This weekend in the Gospel Jesus cuts through 613 precepts, 365 prohibitions, corresponding to the days of the year; and the 248 laws of direction on for every bone in the body, with his challenging answer to the Pharisees question, “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the law?” His reply was: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second resembles it: you must love your neighbour as yourself.” These were not new precepts but were found in the the Old Testament. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18). What Jesus did to connect them together. You cannot have one without the other. “Love of God, whom we cannot see, is bogus if it is not expressed in love of the people whom we do see. And the love of people is incomplete unless it is infused by love of God.” (Silvester O’Flynn O.F.M.)
Some Catholic commentators feel uneasy about the Pope’s latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti (on fraternity and social friendship) which the Pope signed on the Feast of St Francis. They said it no longer put Christ at the centre and seems to be advocating a purely social and secular agenda for solving the world’s ills. This is the third of three encyclicals written by Pope Francis. His first was “On the light of Faith” focusing on the love of God and how the light of Christ draws us to faith. The second was “Laudato Si” on our care of and love for Creation. In this third encyclical Pope Francis writes: “The words of Jesus compel us to recognise Christ himself in each one of our abandoned brothers and sisters… Christ shed his blood for each of us and that no one is beyond the scope of his universal love.”
Loving God and neighbour is the core of our worship and practise. So the question for you and me is: Do I love God? How do I love God? Do I really believe that God loves me first of all, unconditionally and completely? How do I love others?
Lord, give me the gift of your love. May I have the grace to love you with my whole being. May I love you with my entire life and energy. May I love you with my whole mind. May I live completely focused on you. Lord I know I put limits on my love and and my compassion for others in need. I desire that I love others as you love me. Fill me with this love.