30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - God And Neighbor

When we think about law, we don't usually think about love.  But when Jesus was asked to name the first and greatest of all laws, He said very simply and clearly: Love your God and love your neighbor. For Him, the whole of law is based on these two aspects of love.  All law is a matter of love and the Lord intends that His law should be the model for all human law.  


All lawmakers, both in religious and civil matters, are empowered by God to fashion laws with the common good and welfare in mind - laws that will promote order and harmony among all people.   In the democratic form of government, that power resides in the people.   They elect the men and women who will represent them, enact the laws, and enforce them.   The people should certainly hold these elected officials responsible and answerable   and remove them if they do not serve the common good.

And the Church, above every institution, should be governed by the law of love.   The people who are the Church no longer directly choose their priests, their bishops or their pope.   But as we rediscover the original and rightful role of the laity in the life of the Church, the process by which persons in the Church are called to the ministry of service and given the power and privilege of governing should be a process that reflects a loving concern for the rights, the well being, the freedom and the happiness of all of its people.  And the laws of the Church, at every level, must never be out of touch with the primary law of love.

The whole point of both the Old and New Testaments is not to tell us how sinful we are or how weak we are.  It is not to paint a picture of a God of wrath and judgment but to constantly remind us that God's explosion into our lives happens because He cannot contain Himself. Every episode of God's relationship with mankind from the Creation story to the Resurrection narratives points to this fact. True, we do see moments of His justified anger. But these are always tempered with Gentleness, Compassion and Comfort.

We have much to learn in terms of love. So many of today's personal and social problems are rooted in our failure to understand God as Lover and that it is our duty to love our neighbor as we do ourselves.

We constantly need to be reminded of just exactly who our neighbors are.  The definition of "neighbors" in scripture goes way beyond the conventional. It is much more than simply those around usLoving our neighbor is more than simply putting donations into a collection basket each week. The book of Exodus instructs us that our neighbor includes the "alien" (the migrant) and the widow and orphan (the poor).   The God of Compassion and Jusice must be visible in our lives and how we love everyone.

This is the "greatest" commandment that Jesus speaks of in the Scriptures: to love God with one's whole heart, soul and being, and to love our neighbor. To do this, we need to be open to God's love. We need to discard anything that will disguise it, hide it or hinder it.  But above all, we need to allow ourselves to be loved by Him.  If we can do this, then loving our neighbor might just become a little easier.