To believe in love
Not a few people find Christian religion to be a religious system that is difficult to understand, and above all, a framework of laws that is too complicated for someone to live correctly before God. Do not we Christians need to focus our attention much more on taking care of what is essential in the Christian experience before anything else?
The Gospels have preserved Jesus’ response to a group of Pharisees who ask him what is the most important commandment of the Law. This is how Jesus sums up what is essential: the first is, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”; the second is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus’ statement is clear. Love is everything. What is decisive in life is to love. This is the basis of everything. What is first is to live before God and before others in an attitude of love. We do not have to get lost in accidental and secondary things, forgetting what is essential. Everything else starts off from love. Without love everything ends up distorted.
When he speaks about love for God, Jesus is not thinking about the sentiments or emotions that can arise in our hearts; nor is he inviting us to multiply our prayers and petitions. To love the Lord our God with all our heart is to recognize God as the ultimate Source of our existence, to awaken in us complete adherence to his will, and respond with unconditional faith to the universal love of the Father of all. That is why Jesus adds a second commandment. It is not possible to love God and then live with our backs turned on his sons and daughters. A religion that preaches love for God yet forgets those who suffer is a big lie. The only truly human stance before persons we meet in our path is to love them and to seek their good, just as we would want it for ourselves.
All this way of speaking may seem too old-fashioned, too worn-out and not at all effective. However, today, too, the main problem there is in the world is the lack of love. This lack of love keeps dehumanizing, one after another, the efforts and struggles to build a community that is more worthy of human beings.
Some years ago French thinker, Jean Onimus, wrote: “Christianity is still in its beginnings; we have only been working at it for two thousand years. The batch of dough is heavy and needed are centuries of maturing before charity ferments it.” We followers of Jesus should not forget our responsibility. The world needs living witnesses that will help future generations to believe in love, for there is no hope for the future for human beings if we end up losing faith in love.
José Antonio Pagola
October 26, 2014
30 Ordinary Time (A)
Matthew 22, 34-40