Love is our highest call and greatest gift to give
by Renae Bauer
“The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Mt. 22:40, conclusion of Sunday’s Gospel)
Loving God and loving others require me to do some deep soul searching each and every day.
- What does it mean to love God? What does it look like? Are my words, thoughts and actions pleasing to our loving God?
- I know who I love and who I don't. Maybe I even despise a person or a class of people. Do I judge their “sins” rather than see them as part of the Body of Christ? How do I change my heart?
Deep questions for the heart, for sure. These are questions that call for conversion-of-heart, and repentance for the ways I have been haughty, holding myself in some measure of 'superiority,' while considering another or others as 'inferior.' I think this is the type of conversion Francis came to in his encounter with the leper. And I think it's why he could preach "repentance" as the fundamental, authentic message of the gospel -- because he actually KNEW what it meant -- from his own experience of it, and his life-long struggle with it, and daily commitment to it.
This gospel reading and your questions, Renae, ring so true to the needs of Our Times. During the hearings I witnessed, as Judge Amy Coney Barrett was being questioned, I kept wanting to find a way to whisper into her ear, into her heart --- "Remember JESUS, Amy -- he confronted and challenged those who spoke and taught only of the LETTER of THE LAW, while totally neglecting the SPIRIT of the LAW, just so they could appear to be 'superior' to others, and also pocket their money. The Spirit of GOD's Law is COMPASSION & LOVE -- don't you remember? What have we been doing with COMPASSION and LOVE? What have we been doing with TRYING TO UNDERSTAND OUR NEIGHBOR's REAL-LIFE PAIN & SUFFERING?"
I am so grateful that Pope Francis addressed some of this same kind of thinking in his most recent statements that say to us all:, "WE ARE ALL GOD's CHILDREN. EVERYONE BELONGS. EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO BE PART OF A LOVING, ALL-INCLUSIVE FAMILY THAT SUPPORTS and NURTURES EACH and EVERY ONE."
The pain of being excluded and alienated, called derogatory names, bullied, harassed, and intimidated is all TOO VERY REAL for TOO MANY PEOPLE -- including CHILDREN and YOUTH -- today. We all need a change-of-heart.
Thank you, Renae, for calling that out to us.