In all my life, I always keep a short note of the important details whenever I travel, read books, watch real life movies or the like. These notes are particularly useful whenever I share insights with others, or simply when giving a talk or speech. The short notes give a quick memory aid in recalling important details that I want to remember.
A similar instance is read in today’s Gospel (Mk. 12: 28B-34), when one of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This Gospel takes prime importance in the fact that loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength is the greatest commandment. But Jesus didn’t stop at that, and goes on with the second most important, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Jesus summed up the commandments simply and yet the impact is huge and complex as well. It is important to point out that unless you love God first, you cannot love your neighbor. When you love God with all that you are, this love translates into a closer communion with God, which allows us to freely flow His love to others. Only when you love God can that love overflow into other relationships. And, you can’t say that you love God, who is invisible, without loving others who you can see, touch and feel!
When we look at the love of neighbor as an effect of the overflow of your love for God, this second Commandment takes on a clearer meaning. The Lord doesn’t only say to love your neighbor, He further says to love “as yourself.” How do we love oneself? Simply by loving God! We just have to remember that we are made to love God and be with Him in our Heavenly home someday. Loving God is not for God, who is already perfect, but for us so that we become one with Him and achieve our deepest purpose and meaning in life. Thus, loving God is the best way to love oneself. There’s no other way.
Loving your neighbor comes naturally when you love God. That love just flows naturally without our noticing it. As said earlier, when you love yourself, this love manifests in how you care and love others. Indeed, other than it is the easiest way to prove that you love God, it is also the best manifestation of your inner love for God.
Then there’s no better way of loving our neighbor than bringing them to God. Thus, enabling our neighbor to have an intimate relationship with the Lord by becoming their link to Him is one of those noble achievements that we can ever have in this life. The reward will be like no other as God has promised.
Finally, let us reflect on the times that we have been the image of God’s love to others. If our love for God consumes our life, this love will surely overflow to others like the abundant waterfalls of the mountains. Love for God is contagious, it will reflect and show in how we relate with others in our day-to-day living. When our zeal for the Lord is total, there’s simply no way to contain this.
Let us pray then that we don’t forget this short but relevant note that we received through the Gospel today.
Let us pray that we become effective links of God to others: that we become better messengers of God’s infinite love to others in the simple things that we do every day.
Let us pray that God will bless us with the strength and the joy to show and tell the world of His love all the days of our life.
‘Whoever loves Me will keep My word, says the Lord; and My Father will love him and We will come to him.’ (cf. Jn. 14: 23)