Commandment of Love
Saturday of the 1st Week of Lent
Online gaming is rampant these days, especially among young people. Many would cut classes, skip their meals, and miss other activities just to play these games. One of these games is the famous M.L. (Mobile Legends). Many of them became so attached to the game that their studies are greatly affected. I wanted to know why. During my practical training years, I wanted to learn how to play this game in order to be with the young people and speak their ‘language’ and share their experience. But in the end, I never came to learn and was not able to play this game with them. I rather chose to be with them in sports, hikes, and music. One day while browsing through my twitter account I came across a tweet which read like this: “Playing ML is my enemy. But God said, love your enemies. Therefore, I love playing ML.” Rules of logic would say that there is something wrong in this syllogism. But I would rather not go into the technicalities of this statement. Upon reading it, this tweet caught my attention. Was this really what Jesus meant when he said those words as this young person tweeted?
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:44-45 NAB) Our Lord Jesus reminds us of the high calling that is ours. We are to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. In the past, God made a covenant with man. This covenant is being reechoed to us through the reading of the Word. “This day the LORD, your God, is commanding you to observe these statutes and ordinances. Be careful, then, to observe them with your whole heart and with your whole being. Today you have accepted the LORD’s agreement: he will be your God, and you will walk in his ways, observe his statutes, commandments, and ordinances, and obey his voice.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-17 NAB) These words of God through Moses is a reminder that on this ‘today’ or ‘this day’, God gives us His special agreement and call to fidelity. This covenant makes us “a people specially his own, and he will set you high in praise and renown and glory above all nations he has made, and you will be a people holy to the LORD, your God, as he promised. (Deuteronomy 26:18-19 NAB) This was His promise to the Israelites then, now it is also for us as the ‘new Israel’. Jesus challenges us to live the commandments of God which he summarized in the two greatest commandments: love of God and love for neighbor. This is even intensified as he urges us to love even those whom we consider as enemies and persecutors. For the Israelites then, they consider the Gentiles and other tribes as their ‘enemies’. They were considered impure and were not favored by God. Jesus dared them to go beyond race, nationality, and culture. Love, which comes from God, goes beyond any boundary. It embraces everyone. This is what Jesus has shown us. This is what Jesus lived, died, and rose for.
Pope Francis, in his Lenten message, highlights the reality of indifference. He writes, “Today, the selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront…Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians.” Our Holy Father is reechoing in our present context, our Lord’s teaching to his disciples thousands of years ago. This season is a fitting time to go back to the foundations of our Christian life which consists in our following of Christ. God’s commandment of love is a call to each one of us. This call motivates us to love even those who are unlovable, like our enemies, those who have offended us, and our persecutors. We look at Jesus’ example as he hung dying on the cross forgiving those who led him there: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NAB)
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