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June 7, 2018 - Teach Me To Love

Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Today’s readings are among my personal favorites, because they encourage a simple understanding of the gospel.  We hear Jesus’s famous Rule #1 and Rule #2: Love God, Love your neighbor.  The Jews have understood the Shema (Love God) as Rule #1 for a very long time, and Jesus is quoting it because he is a Jew himself.  But he adds what ought to naturally flow through the first rule; if we love God, we must love all that God created.  How can we love God and reject the many gifts he gives to us?  But it needs to be said, and that’s why Jesus said it. To remind us to loving God isn’t detachment from the world, but engagement with it.  We the baptized are co-creators in the redemptive work of Jesus’s salvation.  It’s so much better for us to love in the first place, rather than trying to make up for our mistakes later with good deeds, “…offerings and sacrifices.”

Our Epistle and Psalm also help us work out the details of how to Love God and Love our neighbor.  We are unlikely to figure it out ourselves, so we pray, “teach me your ways, O God.”  The Holy Spirit is a spirit of true, tough, tender love.  When we take time to listen, She guides us toward loving action.  The letter to Timothy reminds us love does not shy away from the necessary suffering that comes when we interact with a sinful world: “…I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen…” Paul loves God and loves his neighbors, and his chains aren’t going to stop that love.  This letter also reminds us not to argue over words.  This hits home for many people of faith; our hunger for knowing the Lord can lead us to the hubris of believing that our understanding is complete, exclusive, and more right than the understanding of other Christians.  God does not want us to argue over words and formulations; it distracts from Love, and it’s a real turnoff to the watching world; It is wondering how we are so sure we know anything at all about God.  The effect is opposite when others see our Love.  Instead of seeing arrogance, they will see God’s love.  God’s love is something we can all believe in.  Show God’s love, and the world will find it easier to have faith.  True Divine Love is the gateway to faith for the modern world.

Holy Spirit, teach us to Love God and our neighbor.  May our hearts overflow with Your great love for us.  Amen.

-Chris Nieport