A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“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.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Good News Reflection:
Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that half-hearted, mediocre attempts to love God and serve him are quite unsatisfactory. It’s not only because God dearly misses us when we’re not fully present to him. It’s also because mediocre faith is not enough faith to get us through the hard times and turn them into miracles.
Whole-hearted faith is what enables us to love others when they are difficult to love, as we love ourselves. The word “as” is essential. We cannot love others any better than we love ourselves, and we cannot love God any more than we love others, for what we do to others we are doing to God. And what we do to ourselves we are doing to God.
How well do you take care of yourself? If you’re not good to yourself, being good to others stirs up resentment within you, and now your kindness becomes a sin. Likewise, if we cater more to our own needs than the needs of others, selfishness separates us from God just as truly as it separates us from the people we’re neglecting.
To break out of the cycle of half-hearted love, we need to let God’s love for us consume us. This is the first step in loving ourselves in a righteous, healthy way. What is he doing right now to take care of you? What would he like to do that you’re not letting him do because you’re too busy or you’re too afraid of being selfish or you think you’re too undeserving?
We need to start every day in quiet time alone with God so that we can get in touch with his love for us and our love for him. We must do this before anything happens that might challenge our willingness to love others, ourselves or God whole-heartedly. Reading this reflection isn’t enough! Have you meditated on his love in a peaceful setting yet?
The second step, while we’re still in morning prayer, is to let God’s love for other people consume us. If there’s someone in your life today who’s likely to cause trouble, spend time getting in touch with Christ’s love for that person. He died for our troublemakers. He cries for them. He longs to embrace them and heal them and lead them to the joys of holy living.
The third step is to say yes to giving others more than we get from them. We say yes to allowing our love to be consumed by the people who need us or who trouble us. This doesn’t mean forgetting about our own needs. It does, however, mean going to the cross for others, as Jesus did. It means that instead of demanding that we get as much goodness from others as we give to them, we’re willing to give them more. That’s when we become aware of God’s whole-hearted love for us. If we ask God to live in the gaping holes left by others, we have more room for his in-dwelling presence.
God loves you with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind! In the Eucharist, we consume this whole-God love, this unending, infinite love. And in doing so, we consume his love for others. We then become Eucharist for others as we give this love to all those around us. By becoming what we receive, we have much more to give than we can imagine.
Lord, teach me how to love You with all my being, and may that love help me to care for my brothers and sisters and for myself, too, as You want me to do. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica