Our Gospel reading this weekend calls us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” as a sign that we truly love God. While the typical Jew would have identified “love of God” as the greatest commandment, this was a new twist that Jesus put on it. The man who questioned Jesus showed he “got it” when he replied, To love God with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices (emphasis mine).
The point to us is to make sure we don’t substitute going to Mass, adoring the Eucharist, praying the rosary, etc. (our modern day burnt offerings and ritual sacrifices) for loving our neighbor as ourselves. These practices are important, but as a HELP, not a substitute. And the parable of the Good Samaritan, which follows this encounter in Luke’s Gospel, makes sure we understand that Jesus is talking about the most needy or vulnerable as our “neighbor,” not just those we interact with in our families, workplaces, etc. The Last Judgement reinforces this: the questions are not about ritual practice, but feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.
What does it mean to “love our neighbor as ourselves”? Probably people love themselves differently and some “self-love” can be
egotistical and selfish. Perhaps a more objective and clearer
command is “love one another as I have loved you,” which Jesus gave to His disciples at the Last Supper.
How has Jesus loved us? First, he brought us into being as a unique reflection of Himself. Second, he became one of us to model for us how we are to live, so that we can be truly happy. Finally, He was willing to give His life for us. “No greater love...” He was centered on others, not himself. This is the ideal we are called to.
Reflection for the week: we are called to love “as Jesus has loved us.” None of us will reach that ideal, but we need to be growing. Am I able to allow others to be the center of my attention, rather than just myself? How can I grow?
Let us support each other in prayer, as we struggle to be disciples who love as the Master has loved us.
Instead of a church sign this week, we have a “pumpkin patch parable,” that someone put in my mailbox:
Sometimes I feel like I’m a pumpkin. Please don’t think it’s odd. I’m growing in a pumpkin patch that’s planted there by God.
God picks me from the pumpkin patch and washes off the dirt. Scoops out the seeds of sin and hate and anger, greed and hurt.
And then, to show how much I’m loved, God marks me with a sign And opens up my eyes and mouth: all part of God’s design.
Then filled with light God sets me out for everyone to see.
So all the pumpkins in the patch can see God’s love through me.
Have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. On Monday we honor our relatives and friends in heaven as we celebrate All Saints Day. On Tuesday we pray for our dead who still need our support. Join us for Mass at 8:00 am. God bless.