This is the script from Fr. Andy's KDTH radio mass, which may have differed in respects from the Sunday mass homily at Nativity.
In today’s Gospel the questioning of Jesus continues. They ask, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
It seems that they are running out of questions, because this is basically a settled question, everyone knows the answer to this question. Jesus gave them the correct answer.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.”
But what is really interesting is that He doesn’t stop there. He gives them a bonus answer, and this is something new that they wouldn’t have put together, Jesus says:
“The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Linking these two together connects them as one, how can you truly love God with all your heart if you do not also love your neighbor? And this was where the Pharisees were always getting it wrong.
The Pharisees would constantly neglect the people in favor of showing their love to God, so this was actually something new to them, despite the warning to them in Exodus about taking care of immigrants, widows and orphans, they still somehow missed it.
Widows and orphans were the classic symbols of those who couldn’t take care of themselves, those who required extra protection by a society. God had made sure to put in provisions for them, but for the Pharisees, this wasn’t exactly glamorous work, it didn’t help their status and fame.
Their love for God was empty because it didn’t help those who were most in need
Thankfully, for Christians, this double dimension of love was made so prominent by Jesus that we couldn’t miss it, and it has guided our social action throughout history.
The saints have been the ones to found hospitals, orphanages, schools and so many other works of charity. Their love for God flowed out into the world as love for their neighbor. The saints knew this wasn’t meant to be the responsibility of the government. The government isn’t there to love, people are.
True love for God yields love for our neighbor. We can’t just love one or the other, we can’t disconnect them like the Pharisees would, praying to God and neglecting those in need.
Conversely, we can’t just be all about social action and neglect our relationship with God, we must have both aspects, we must breathe with both lungs.
How do we show love to God? How do we show love to our neighbor?
Our time in prayer with God will help us to see where He needs us to do better showing love to our neighbor.
Take the time today to reflect on how you are living out these greatest two commandments.
-Fr. Andy, Pastor