Homily for the thirtieth Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 22:34-40


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Deut. 6:5) This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Lev. 19:18) On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.'"





Homily:


"But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Deut. 6:5) This is the great and first commandment.'"


In the beginning, God created man in his own image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26). In this way, God wanted to manifest all that he is: Love in the Gift of self! Thus, in the original man there was all of this love in the gift of self: there was only love in the heart of man, love of God, of course. The man that God created really loved God above all!


It was a Beautiful Story... A beautiful story of love between the Creator and his creature! But, as everyone knows, love in words is beautiful, but love in actions is even more beautiful. So God asked man to prove his love for him, his Creator. And God put the man and the woman to a test... It was somewhat like how Jesus, here, was put to the test by a lawyer: "One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him."


So God put man to a test: he forbade man from eating the fruit of the tree that was in the middle of the garden, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf. Gen. 2:9; 2:16-17). So, in the beginning, love was subject to a law, a law from God himself. However, the law here is not one that obliges man to love God: man loves God without law or constraint. Besides, a love compelled by a law is not love...


Unfortunately, with God permitting it, the Devil got involved: he was envious of the man and the woman whom God cherished. So the Devil, under the form of a serpent, tempted the man and the woman: he made them believe that they could, without fear, eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil... And the man and the woman, who were supposed to prove their love for God by the observation of his law, transgressed that law, which was nevertheless a law of love...


Ever since this tragic event, man has been ceaselessly pulled between two loves that seek to dominate each other: the love of God and the love of creatures. Sometimes it was the love of God that won out, and man rendered glory to God by offering to him, as Abel did, the most magnificent animals from his flock, namely the firstborn (cf. Gen. 4:4). At other times it was the love of creatures, and above all the love of self, that attempted to crush the love of God, as Cain did when he killed his own brother... out of envy.


Also, man blessed the Lord when he gave Moses the Tablets of the Law. These required man to love God above all things! These are not laws that oblige man to love God: as I said above, a love that is compelled by law is not love. So these are laws that indicate the road to follow: to love God above all, to love God more than creatures. This is why Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."


"And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Lev. 19:18) On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.'"


These words from Leviticus: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18), are ones that Jesus realized perfectly. Dying on the Cross of Calvary, Jesus loved each man, each woman, each child with a love that is boundless, limitless, infinite, a love lived in the Spirit of Love. This is why these words, when spoken by Jesus, take on a new dimension, one that extends the law to its fullness.


When Jesus declares: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself", he means: "Love one another, even as I have loved you." (Jn. 13:34) The Law of Moses is succeeded by the Law of Christ: "A new commandment I give to you." (Jn. 13:34) The law that indicates the path to follow is succeeded by the grace of God, Christ himself, the envoy of God, he who is "the Way" (Jn. 14:6) that leads to Life!


Before the coming of Christ, the Law indicated the road to follow in order that the love of God might overcome the love of creatures. Henceforth, it is the grace of God that, by its power, maintains man in a right balance between the love of God and the love of creatures. He who, even if only once in his life, prefers God, and his love, to all creatures, no matter which, past, present, or future, that person is and always will be guided by the grace of God on the Way of eternity!


Was it not a divine grace that worked first in Mary, the Mother of Jesus, before it spread out into each and every one of the elect of God? When Mary said to the Archangel Gabriel: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Lk. 1:38), did she not completely trust in the Omnipotence of the Holy Spirit? Mary wanted to remain a Virgin, and she did remain one, because for her this was clearly the Will of God, who wanted her for himself and himself alone. But Mary also agreed to become a Mother, in order to be entirely at the service of men, the first of whom being her own Son...


Let us love God! Let us love Jesus! Let us love Mary! May our whole life be devoted to the love of God and men! Amen!




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