Readings for November 4, 2018
St. John of the Cross, 16th Century mystic and priest, is quoted as saying, “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.” God proclaims His Word so that I can know and love Him–or in other words, so that I can build a relationship with Him, a relationship that must permeate how I live my life.
Moses lays out the desired relationship with God in a few verses: “Fear the Lord, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all his statutes and commandments.” As a child of God, I start my relationship with Him by obeying His commands. And I won’t lie, obedience is not something that comes easy for me. Sometimes it can be really difficult to let go of my own understanding, my own desires, and follow God’s path. And sometimes I struggle maintaining a relationship with Him especially when, particularly during times of spiritual dryness, the relationship can feel one-dimensional.
And so, Moses also reminds me why I should seek to build and keep a relationship with God in the first place. “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” In this passage, “therefore” is a powerful word, indicating causality. Moses suggests that because God is God alone, because He is faithful to me, because He created me in His image and in His likeness, I am called to love Him with my entire being.
Jesus affirms Moses’ message. When asked by a scribe “Which is the first commandment?” Jesus repeats what Moses has said, saying that wholly loving God is the first and greatest commandment. However, he then expands on the message by borrowing an additional command from Leviticus 19:18, saying, “The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Here, Jesus does something interesting. He uses the singular noun “commandment” but the plural adjective “these.” In doing so, he inextricably binds together the love of God and the love of neighbor, reminding me that we cannot love God without loving one another.
This message is augmented in the Word when St. John offers an if/then faith statement regarding the love of God and love of other. “We love because He first loved us … Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love … If God so loved us, then we must also love one another.” (1 John 4:19, 8, 11) Since God first loved me, I was born in love. By His design, I was created for love of Him. In His will, I live to love others.
My love of God is a response to His grace and mercy. My love of other is an outpouring of that love, a way of living that both meets and fulfills His law, His statutes and His commandments. In love … for love … to love … beginning to end. Or, as I am known to say, the rules are simple:
1- Love God
2- Love others
3- For everything else, refer to numbers 1 and 2
If I am able to understand this, I am “not far from the Kingdom of God.”
“I love you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold! Praised be the LORD! The Lord lives! And blessed be my rock! Extolled be God my savior!” (Psalm 18)