Throughout my many years as a priest, I have often stressed the two greatest commandments in my homilies and writings: first, love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; second, love your neighbor as yourself. Recently, a thought crossed my mind: maybe there are three greatest
The first commandment has been very clear all through the Old and the New Testament. We have to love the God who made us and sustains us. Jesus attached the second to the first and emphasized that ALL are our neighbors through the parable of the Good Samaritan, his answer to the question, “And who is my neighbor?”
But hidden in there is “myself.” I need to love “myself.” Maybe that’s the third of the greatest commandments? Because, if I don’t love myself, will I be capable of loving others? And if I can’t love others, will I love God?
By loving myself, I don’t mean being self-centered, but rather realizing my value because I am a child of God, made in His image. God chose to create ME, as I am, with all my strengths and weaknesses. God doesn’t expect me to be perfect in order to love me: He loves me as I am and invites me to grow in my ability to be loving.
I AM SPECIAL because God made me and loves me. That doesn’t make me proud or obnoxious, because I realize I didn’t do anything to deserve it: it was God who did it all. But, hopefully, experiencing that love and letting it sink in will help me to be loving and forgiving to others, who also are loved by God, even though they are flawed like I am.
I invite us to reflect this week on how special we are because God made us and loves us, allowing that to help us be more accepting and loving to others, who were also created by God and are loved by God.
Church sign of the week: If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.