“The greatest commandment” 30th Sunday Reflection
Today’s Scripture is centred on love and relationship. In the Book of Exodus God called on the Israelites to reach out to the marginalised among them. St Paul commends the Christians in Thessalonica who have joyfully embraced their faith and preach the Good News by their actions. In Matthew’s Gospel we read about the Pharisees’ last attempt to outwit Jesus so that they can arrest him. Asking Jesus which was the greatest command of the Law was certainly going to cause a commotion as the Law of Moses contained 613 commandments. Jesus quotes just two laws, one from Deuteronomy and one from Leviticus and combines them into one. What’s more he even claims that the whole law and the teaching of the prophets are summed up in this one law. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You must love your neighbour as yourself.”
This is the challenge that Jesus offered to the Pharisees who tried to trick him and it is the invitation he extends to each one of us.
Jesus transposed the Greek ideal of ‘know thyself’ into ‘love thyself’. We are free to love ourselves because we are made in the image and likeness of God. Divine love and human love are intimately connected. Only when one really loves oneself is one free to love another with a oneness of heart. We do not live in isolation as we are relational beings. A Gaelic Proverb catches this wisdom: “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine”…people live in the shadow of one another.
Throughout Laudato Si Pope Francis calls on us to encourage a ‘culture of care’ which permeates all of society. By doing this “the world, and the quality of life of the poorest, are cared for, with a sense of solidarity which is at the same time aware that we live in a common home which God has entrusted to us.” LS 232. Regardless of our age, life opportunities or experiences each one of us has “a sphere of influence” where we can make a difference. We would do well to remember the example of The Little Flower, St Therese of Lisieux, who is well known for her practice of the little way of love, the small daily gestures of care and respect. An integral ecology is also made up of small daily gestures “when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our dignity.” LS 211.
And so we pray
“God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
Laudato Si ! Amen.”