“Love your neighbor as yourself”
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Mark tells us that a scribe asks Jesus, “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.” Jesus quickly adds, “The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” What does it mean to love God and Neighbor today?
There is perhaps no better example of “loving your neighbor” like Mother Teresa of Calcutta in our modern times. The strength to endeavor in the charity work that she accomplished and the work that is still being done in her name is unimaginable. How could this one person, who so loved the poor, transform common social justice thinking? Truly it was meritorious that in 1962, she received the Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding. In 1971, she was awarded the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. Teresa was also awarded the Templeton Prize in 1973, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980. I think that we can all agree that her charity work for the poor, the lost, the forgotten and even the discarded was heroic and commendable. However, Mother Teresa was not just a great humanitarian, she served and loved the poor because she loved God first. But do we really have it in us to love our neighbor as ourself like Mother Teresa did? Yes, we do. It is in loving God that the love of neighbor is fostered; our love is transformed into action for the service of others. Not everyone is called to live a life of serving the poor as Mother Teresa was; we can however do our part, in our little corner of the world. In our city and in our community, we God’s people can do extraordinary things to serve the lest among us. Whether its volunteering at a local shelter, or ministering to the forgotten souls imprisoned, or even supporting our parish’s Society of St. Vincent De Paul; let’s put our love for God in action.
Let us start at home, by being the beacon of hope in our families; demonstrating God’s great love through the little things that we do for one another. We have a dear friend in our parish community, who was hit hard by COVID; and he has been hospitalized since July. For many weeks he fought just to stay alive, and each day he struggles to catch a breath, and he is completely dependent on the care of medical professionals. As great as the service is that the doctors and nurses and other specialists are providing him; none compare to the service that he is receiving from his wife. She has rarely left his bedside, she’s in constant prayer and frequently asks others to pray for her husband. She is somehow managing the household, and her work, and attending morning Mass every day, and planning her daughter’s wedding. She is loving her husband by being there with him to make sure his socks are on correctly, the room is not too cold for him, she sees to it that he eats, and oversee his medication. She grows weary, but she is relentless; this trail is taking a toll on her, but she remains committed and honors her husband. This great love is in her heart, and she will move mountains, but only because she loved God first.
Diaconate Candidate 2024