Love What God Loves and Who He Loves

User’s Guide to Sunday, Oct. 29

‘Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You.’
‘Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You.’ (photo: Unsplash)

Sunday, Oct. 29, is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass readings: Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51; 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40.

There was an expression common among the rabbis of Jesus’ time, wherein one rabbi would ask another a question and request that the answer be given while “standing on one foot.” This is a way of saying, be brief in your answer. That idea may be behind the question that is raised in today’s Gospel by the scholar of law, who asks, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” The text says that he asks this question of Jesus in order to “test” him. In effect, he says to Jesus, “Let’s get right to the point. You’re talking about a lot of new things, but what is the greatest commandment?” In responding, Jesus recites the traditional Jewish prayer, the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6). 

Jesus then adds, also in common Rabbinic tradition, “And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” That’s it — the whole law encapsulated. The first table of the Law (the first three commandments): Love the Lord your God. The second table of the Law (Commandments 4-10): Love your neighbor.

There is value in noting several aspects of this summary from the Shema:

Love comes first and is the foundation, the power of the Law. Jesus says elsewhere, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). In other words, it is love that enables us to keep the Law. When we want to do something, then the doing is both joyful and, in some sense, effortless. 

The text says we should love God with our heart, our soul and our mind. 

These layers of our existence encompass the whole of the interior person. Thus: Through love, we come to a new mind, that is, a new way of thinking. Through love, we receive a new heart; our desires are reformed and conformed to God. Through love, we receive a new soul. We begin to live a whole new life because the soul is the life-giving principle of the body.

Note the use of the little word “all.” We love the Lord with all our heart, all our mind, and all our soul. When we love, we are not minimalists. Love does not ask, “What is the least I can do?” Love asks, “What more can I do?”

So, love is a dynamic force that links us to God and his truth. It transforms us to love what God loves and who he loves. 

The great prophecy of Ezekiel comes to mind: “O, my people, says the Lord, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (36:26-27).

It is said that Rabbi Hillel, who lived just one generation before Christ, was even briefer, saying of the second table of the Law, “Do not do unto others that which you would hate done unto yourself … all the rest is commentary.” 

Details and specifications may later be needed, but don’t miss the heart: Love God; love your neighbor. 

The Alabama State House, located in Montgomery, Alabama.

Alabama House Passes Bill Protecting IVF

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and the Alabama Policy Institute issued a joint statement before the bill’s passage criticizing lawmakers for supporting legislation that they claim conflicts with pro-life principles.