EXODUS 22: 21 – 27
Thus says the Lord: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbour’s garment in pledge, you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down; for that is his only covering, it is his mantle for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 18: 2 – 3a, 3bc – 4, 47 and 51ab (R.) 2.
R/. I love you, Lord, my strength.
I love you, Lord, my strength;
O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my saviour. R/.
My God, my rock where I take refuge;
my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold.
I cry out, Praised be the Lord!
and see, I am saved from my foes. R/.
The Lord lives, and blest be my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted.
The Lord gives great victories to his king,
and shows merciful love for his anointed. R/.
You turned from idols to serve God and to wait for his Son.
1ST THESSALONIANS 1: 5c – 10
Brethren: You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
The Word of the Lord.
John 14: 23.
If a man loves me, he will keep my words, says the Lord; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him.
You shall love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself.
MATTHEW 22: 34 – 40
At that time: When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: The High Calling of Love
October 29, 2023
“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.” (Matthew 22:37–40)
Think about the many things you desire in life. What would make up that list? Perhaps there are many good things that would be included, such as a desire for strong family relationships, good health, a happy life, good friends, and financial security. Perhaps there are other things that would be included, such as success in an occupation, nice vacations, a new home, and fun adventures in life. If you were to make a list like this that began with your deepest desire, what would come first? We might all know what should come first, but if you were to honestly examine the desires of your heart right now, what would be on the top of that list?
Ideally, the first and greatest desire of our souls would be the two greatest commandments. Above all else you will desire to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Is that the deepest desire of your heart?
What’s important to note is that we ought not love God with most of our heart, soul and mind. We don’t just love Him with 51% and then allow ourselves to disseminate the other 49% to other loves. No, 100% of our love must go to God. God must be the single and exclusive object of our love.
If you were to give to God 100% of your love, what would you have left for others? The glorious nature of our love of God is such that the more love we offer to God, the more we have to give away to others. When we give our love to God, He does not take it away from us and keep it for Himself in a selfish way as if He is jealous and possessive. Instead, loving God transforms our ability to love in such a way that we have even more than we started with. We are limited creatures and we are limited in our ability to love. God is infinite and His love is infinite in nature. Therefore, when we give our limited love to God, we receive back from Him His infinite love. This love is then able to overflow from our lives and can be distributed without reserve.
So back to our original question: Do you love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind? If you do, then it means that every part of who you are is caught up in the mind and will of God. It means that you continuously seek to understand God and all that He has revealed to you. It means that you seek to comprehend His perfect will for you every day of your life. It means that you choose only that which God wills and that you do so with passion, zeal and fervor. It means that you are continuously attentive to God, respond to His gentle promptings of grace, and are led by Him every moment of every day of your life. That is a high calling! But it is the calling you have been given. Then, and only then, will you be loving yourself with the love of God by opening yourself to His outpouring of love, and only then will you be able to act as an instrument of God’s love to those around you.
Reflect, today, upon the high and definitive calling you have been given to love God with every fiber of your being. Your love must become all-consuming. It must be total and without hesitation. It will require the complete sacrifice of your life, the full purging of your sins, the denunciation of all selfishness and a heart that is open to the infinite power of God’s transforming touch. Because God commanded this, it is possible. It is possible to become a great saint. Shoot for nothing less. Never give up on this high calling, and know that it is the only way to the fulfillment in life that you deeply desire.
My loving Lord, You have given everything to me and ask for everything in return. Please help me to understand Your perfect love and to choose it with all my might. I do love You, dear Lord. Help me to love You with all that I am. Jesus, I trust in You.