REFLECTION FOR TODAY
August 20, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“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.” Matt. 22:37-39
Jesus affirms the first and second commandments in our gospel reference of today, each of love, one for God with the whole heart and the other for the neighbor as oneself. This affirmation came as a response to the challenge from the Pharisees who came to test him.
Have you ever been challenged by another about matters of faith? If so, what was your response? Were you able to respond by the inspiration and clarity given by the Holy Spirit? Or did you walk away confused and unable to respond? Having our faith challenged by another will either result in our own confusion or in our deeper understanding.
Sometimes, being challenged by another in matters of faith helps us, in that it allows us to clarify what we believe. Though Jesus did not need clarity for His own sake, He did offer this clarity in the face of trickery to help both the Pharisees as well as His followers who were listening attentively.
By answering this question in the way that Jesus did, He presented the entire Law given by Moses in the Ten Commandments in a new and summarized way. The first three of the Ten Commandments have to do with love of God, and the last seven have to do with love of neighbor. The second commandment Jesus gives, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” is a consequence of the first commandment. How do you “love yourself?”
It is important to be aware that it is possible to “love” our neighbor in such a way that is contrary to the love of God. Love of neighbor, at times, especially when the “neighbor” is a family member who has turned from God, can be challenging. But when it is, think about the way that the Sadducees and Pharisees tried to constantly trap Jesus.
He always gave the perfect response of love and never allowed their misguided conversation to leave confusion. So, with us, we must rely upon the wisdom and love of God when loving another is difficult. God must guide our every conversation in that case so that the other knows they are loved and so that our love does not deviate from the pure love of God.
Reflect, today, upon the high calling you have been given to love God above all and to love your neighbor with that same love that you have for God. If you find loving someone is difficult, pray for the wisdom you need to remain faithful to them in God’s love alone. And if you find your love challenged, rely upon our Lord to lead you and to give you the words you need when you need them the most.
Lord, You love all people with a perfect love, and You call us all to love You with our whole heart, soul and mind. And You call us to love others with the love You have for them. Fill my heart with love of You and all people, especially those who are most difficult to love. Give me wisdom, dear Lord, to know how to love others in You so that they will experience Your perfect love in their lives. Jesus, I trust in You!