By Fr. Roy Cimagala
IT’S amazing that despite the many good things Christ said and did that impressed many people, there were still some leading Jews who doubted him and were fond of asking some what are termed as ‘gotcha’ questions. (cfr. Mt 22,34-40)
One of these questions was, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” This was asked by no one less than a scholar of the law who later on was floored when Christ responded, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
And without being asked what the second greatest commandment was, Christ volunteered to also tell him, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Somehow, Christ wanted to teach him—and us—that love for God is never separated from love of neighbor.
Indeed, we have to realize that loving God and neighbor is meant to be the very essence of our humanity. It is the primal force and principle of our whole life. It is what would keep us moving and living as we should. It is what integrates the different aspects and dimensions of our life—the material and spiritual, the personal and social, the temporal and eternal, etc.
That is why Christ said it very clearly that loving God and neighbor are the dual commandment that occupies the greatest place in our life. But we also need to realize that our capacity to love God and neighbor can only take place if we always feel God’s love first. We should realize that it is God who loves us first (cfr. 1 Jn 4,19), and we can only learn to love properly if we know, feel and imitate that love of God for us.
That is why Christ said it also very clearly that we have to love one another as he himself has loved us. (cfr. Jn 13,34) We therefore need to know how Christ loved us and continues to love us. Better said, we have to be truly like Christ because he is the very personification of true love, a love that can handle all conditions and situations in life, both in good times and in bad, etc.
To know and feel God’s love for us, as shown by Christ who shares that love with us, is crucial because that love is what would keep us going properly in this life which will always be marked with all kinds of challenges and difficulties.
We should never depend only on our own human version of love. This kind of love cannot go far. It lacks the stamina and the strength to handle life’s many twists and turns, let alone dealing with those problems that not only are difficult to solve but also are humanly unsolvable already.
That is why there are many cases of people nowadays who find it hard to persevere in their commitments. Initially they are filled with fervor, but as time passes, they slowly become disenchanted, losing steam and finding no meaning in the things they need to do.
This is when they really need to feel God’s love which they can achieve if with humility they realize that they need to pray and meditate on Christ’s life and love, avail of the sacraments, the usual channel of grace, and resolve to make another renewal of their commitment, etc.
It’s when we are touched by God’s love that we will feel energized to love again!