YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOUR
BY: Very Rev. Fr. John Louis
READINGS: Deuteronomy 6: 2-6 / Hebrews 7:23-28/ Mark 12: 23-28
Today, when we cherish portable devices for the sake of convenience and effective utility, we should be able to appreciate today’s message: Jesus says that all the commandments are reduced to the one commandment of love. And this is more portable than a laptop, an iPad or a mobile phone, because we do not need a bag or a purse or even our hands to carry it – it's carried by the heart. And it can be used anytime, anywhere, for it does not operate on an Internet or phone network which could be interrupted. In addition, we do not need to pay for any credits or network services, for it is operated on the free grace of God.
TWO DIMENSIONS OF LOVE
As a network allows us to communicate with both the network service provider as well as with others (friends, family, etc.) so the one commandment of love has two dimensions: to love God (the Love-Net service provider) and to love our neighbours (family, friends, etc.).
FIRST DIMENSION: LOVE OF GOD
Jesus said: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart…soul…mind’. This commandment, which is originally recorded in Deut. 6 (first reading), means that we are to love God with our whole being; we are not for instance to pretend we love God with our heart, while our mind doubts his existence.
‘WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART’ – The heart signifies our will, feelings or desires. Therefore, God should be our first and prominent desire. We should let him capture our feelings and desires, and let him control our choices or decisions in life. We should be entirely devoted to him in worship.
‘WITH YOUR WHOLE SOUL’ – The soul signifies our life (no one can be alive without the soul). So, to love the Lord God with our whole soul means we are to offer our whole life to God.
‘WITH YOUR WHOLE MIND’ – The mind means our intellect or thoughts or reasoning or knowledge. If there is only one thing or person we should think about, it must be God. Therefore, let us seek to know him more and more through his Word, our prayers and the preaching of his ministers. Again, each day let the thoughts of God dominate our thinking.
SECOND DIMENSION: LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR
We cannot communicate with others via, for instance, mobile phones if in the first place the network system had not been invented. On the other hand, we do not get connected to a network simply to communicate with the provider. (In reality, we communicate more with others than with the service provider.) Hence, after commanding us to love God, Jesus immediately added: ‘and the second commandment is like it: you shall love your neighbour as yourself’. (He took this from Lev. 19:18.)
What does it mean to love our neighbour? Jesus says: if he/she is hungry, feed him/her; if he/she is thirsty, give him/her water; if he/she is naked, clothed him/her; if he/she is sick, visit him/her; if he/she is imprisoned, visit him/her; if he/she is stranded, welcome and help him/her (cf. Matt. 25:40-45). In short, be kind and compassionate to them as you wish should be done to you when in need.
St. Paul, in turn, explains what love of neighbour is. In the first place, he says that: ‘Love is patient and kind’ (1 Cor. 13:4). He further explains that to love someone is to avoid doing him/her any evil: ‘Love does not envy; it is not rude; not selfish; it does not keep a record of wrong things; it does not rejoice in the downfall of the other …’ (1 Cor. 13:5-7; see also Rom. 13:8-10).
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, this week and always let us communicate love to God (the Love-Net service provider) through prayer and worship; and communicate love to others (neighbours) through charity, patience, thoughtfulness, etc. for we are all on the same Love-Net of God. Amen.
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis