Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
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:
This Sunday’s Gospel reading reminds us that we cannot love God without loving ourselves and others, but God must always come first.
When we have difficulty loving God with all our heart, mind and soul all the time, every day, every moment, no matter what’s going on, it’s usually because we’re spending too much time focused on other people and/or on our own plans and wishes.
Yes, we must focus on others in order to love them. And yes we must focus on our own needs so that we can love others as much as we love ourselves. Our own needs are important and we are responsible for seeing that our needs get met; otherwise we don’t have enough to share with others – enough energy, enough enthusiasm, enough kindness, enough patience, etc. Likewise, we can’t focus so much on ourselves that we neglect the needs of others.
So the question then becomes: What are the priorities? In other words: How much time should we spend alone with God? How much time should we spend nurturing ourselves? How much of our time and needs and wants should be sacrificed for the sake of others?
Interestingly, we find the right balance only after we put God first and make our relationship with him our highest priority. This divine friendship is what heals us in our unmet needs. It’s what empowers us to love others even when they are difficult to love. And we don’t have to be alone with God all day to have intimacy with him.
We love him first and foremost simply by relying on him for success in loving others and ourselves. As long as we keep turning to him for guidance, healing and strength, we are loving him with all our heart, mind and soul all the time, every day, every moment, no matter what’s going on.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
How good are you at setting priorities and keeping God at the top? What puts your priorities out of order? What can you do to increase God’s role in your everyday life?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Describe some of the techniques you’ve used to increase God’s priority in your everyday life. How has focusing on your relationship with God helped you to be more loving to yourself and kinder toward others?
Lord, give me the grace to have You alone reigning in my heart. Let there be no resistance within me. I praise and bless You for being my most precious treasure. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica