Only human beings have the capacity for love. A world, a country, a community, a family without love would be hard to recognise as a genuine community or a family.
For the past few weeks we have been reflecting on the religious leaders, at the time of Jesus, who were often criticised for placing the law above all else. For example, last Sunday, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with the question about paying taxes to Caesar. They were trying to set Jesus up, trying to looking for a mistake he might make, so as to condemn him. Hatred, and selfish motives drove these leaders to do everything that they could to put Jesus to death.
Moving away from the hatred, the contrary message of love becomes the main theme that characterises the readings of this weekend. In the first reading, the Book of Exodus instructs us on how to love our neighbour: not to molest or oppress an alien; not to wrong any widow or orphan; if you lend money, do not use extortion by demanding interest; if you take your neighbour’s cloak as a pledge, return it.
In today’s gospel, again the Pharisees strike back at Jesus, through a lawyer, by asking him ‘what is the greatest commandment?’ Actually, there are more than 600 commandments which the Pharisees had identified in the Torah. So which of these 600 is the greatest? The Jews already knew which is the greatest, that is, to love God above all else; but Jesus’ answer goes far beyond the question and includes love of neighbour. Love of God and love of neighbour must go together.
The gospel invites us to reflect on the two greatest commandments: love of God and love of neighbour. These two great commandments are the foundation of the entire law and the prophets and sum up our sole purpose in life, that is, to love.
The symbol Christian love is the Cross. This love of God and love of neighbour is symbolised by the two beams of the cross. It is our call to balance the vertical dimension of our relationship with God in prayer and reflection and the horizontal dimension of our relationship with others through, respect and support. So, if we take away the vertical dimension or detach either beam, you’ll obtain neither love of God nor love of neighbour, there is no sign of the cross or no sign of Christian in this world.
Only human beings have the capacity for love. A world, a country, a community, a family without love would be hard to recognise as a genuine community or a family. Going through this pandemic, we have come to realise that love and care for one another are more important than anything else.
The readings of this Sunday challenges us to reflect on our relationship with God and with one another. Imagine what it would be like if love was the only language of this world? There would be no need for boundaries or passports to travel. Imagine if love was the only language in the country? Imagine if love was the boarder between Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania or Queensland. Imagine that love was the only language in our family? Every weekend would be a Christmas gathering. If love was the language that we were all speaking throughout our communities, then poverty and social justice matters would become history.
Let us invite one another to reflect on the ways we can all speak and use the language of love in our daily lives.