HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT OF ALL: LOVE GOD WITH YOUR ALL.
“Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise.” Opening prayer, Mass proper.
The words above come from the Collect prayer of today’s 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A Mass. We ask God to increase in us the theological virtues, faith, hope and charity, and to love his commandments so as to receive his promise to eternal life.
- “Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him. Gospel Acclamation (Jn 14:23).”
God gave us the Ten Commandments to help us discern good from evil and carry out the good. In today’s Gospel (Mt 22:34-40), Jesus sums up God’s commandments with the following words:
- “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Like anyone else, God asks us for a love which is total. If we ourselves are not content with a superficial and inconstant love, so is God.
- A love which is total requires loving with one’s ALL, with one’s ENTIRE heart, soul, mind and strength.
- Are we striving to love God with our entire being? How is it manifested in our life? Do we put God over and above any other person, thing, ambition, desire, and our own self? Or is it the other way around: we give much more importance to our love of material things, of comfort, of our wealth and pleasure…
Loving God with our entire being entails in fulfilling His Will, summarized in the 10 commandments, and discovered by each one in his personal prayer. Many times, fulfilling God’s will requires sacrifice on our part: it would demand us to overcome our laziness, pride, sensuality… But this must not surprise us at all: Jesus died on the Cross to save us and carry out God the Father’s plan of redemption. He teaches us that true love is capable of total self-giving and sacrifice for the sake of the beloved.
- Are we also willing to embrace sacrifice to carry out God’s will in the vicisitudes of our life? Do we dedicate time for daily prayer, for Sunday Mass, and frequent Confession? Or are we stingy with our time when it comes to things in relation to God?
Love for God is also inseparable from love for our neighbor such that this is the thermometer of the authenticity and totality of our love for God, the consequence and the result of our love for God. The latter cannot exist without the former and vice-versa.
- Their inseparability is reinforced in the 1st reading from Exodus 22:20–26 which underlines the necessity of treating others in a fair and just manner:
- Thus says the Lord: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”
- Moreover, this love for our neighbor must be the same love with which we love ourselves. This is the guideline of our love for our neighbor. When we love by this manner, we are “imitators of our Lord” Jesus Christ (cfr. 2nd reading, 1 Thes 1:5c–10), who taught us to love others “as I have loved you (Jn: 13:34-35)”.
- It is time to ask ourselves: At this moment, do I bear grudges, hate, or treat someone in an unjust or cruel way? Have I avoided paying my debts on time, when I am capable of doing so? Have I taken advantage of someone?
Dear brethren in Christ, let us ask the help of Our Lady so that like her, we too may have a total and authentic love towards God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, which is manifested in our daily effort to love our neighbor.
“I love you, God, my strength! (Psalm 17)”
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