Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday 23 October 2011

The Commandment of Love

    The Gospel passage on which we are focusing makes clear that being disciples of Christ means practicing his teachings, which can be summarized in the first and greatest commandment of the divine law, the commandment of love.  Even the First Reading, taken from the Book of Exodus, insists on the duty of love; a love witnessed concretely in relationships between persons, which must be relationships of respect, collaboration, generous help.

    The neighbor to be loved is the stranger, the orphan, the widow and the needy, in other words, those citizens who have no "defender".  The holy author goes into details, as in the case of the object pawned by one of these poor persons (cf. Ex 22: 25-26).  In this case God himself is the one to vouch for the neighbor's position.

    In the Second Reading, we can find a concrete application of the supreme commandment of love in one of the first Christian communities.  St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, leading them to understand that, while having known them for such a short time, he appreciates them and holds them dear in his heart.

    Because of this, he pinpoints them as "a model for all the believers of Macedonia and Achaia" (1 Thes 1: 7).  Weaknesses and difficulties are not lacking in this recently founded community, but it is love that surpasses all, renews all, conquers all:  the love of those who, knowing their own limits, docilely follow the words of Christ, the divine Teacher, passed down through one of his faithful disciples.

    "You, in turn, became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word despite great trials, with the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit", the Apostle wrote.

    The lesson that we can draw from the Thessalonians' experience, and experience that is truly common in every authentic Christian community, is that neighborly love is born from docile listening to the divine Word.  It is a love that will even withstand difficult trials for the truth of the divine Word, and in this way true love grows and truth shines in all its splendor.  How important it is to listen to the Word and incarnate it in personal and community life!

                            -- Pope Benedict XVI
                                Homily, 26 October 2008

Act of Charity

    O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love.  I love my neighbor as myself for love of you.  I forgive all who have injured me and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

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