One. Two. Three.
31 October 2021, 31st Sunday in the Ordinary Time
Mk 12: 28b-34
In Math, love can be expressed as 1-4-3-4-4 which means “I love you very much.” But our readings of today propose a formula that is very common: 1-2-3. There is one theme that synthesizes our readings of today: love. Two. There are two commands that lead us to love: to listen and to live. Three. May I propose three ways how to live what we have listened: to be constant, to be consistent and to be commitment.
One. What is love? There are so many notions about love. And the most common of notion about love is that it’s a feeling. In music, in novels and in movies, love is highly regarded as a charged emotion when stories begin with “Once upon a time” and ends with “and they lived happily ever after”. But our Sacred Scriptures never romanticizes and fantasizes love. If today, and over and over again, love is commanded by our Lord, it is because love enables us to fulfill. A life of fulfillment never looks for satisfaction but meaning and purpose. We cannot find meaning and purpose while day dreaming and telling the whole world “Sana all”. Love as a command ushers us to act with meaning, with a purpose and with a sense.
Two. Love is the fulfillment of the law. It is not just a matter of asking ourselves, “How can I fulfill the command?” More than doing as legislated, we ought to ask ourselves, “How can I be loving?” If we love the person, we listen. If we love God, we listen. But listening is not just hearing. In the Scriptures, to listen is to obey. Jesus emphasizes loving as listening when He echoes the Torah, “Hear, O Israel!” Right now, it is difficult to listen to the Lord because we accommodate and appropriate ourselves to many cacophonies such vices and other distorted schools of thought like hedonism, materialism and secularism. But today, the Lord is telling us that the first step to become loving is to listen. Combine the two ears, and they form a heart.
What we have listened, we put into life. Life is not just the context where love can thrive. Many of us are breathing and are moving. But it seems that we are dead men walking. Who can these be? These are people who complain a lot, who find faults in others, who criticize without giving suggestions, who gossip, who brag, who influence others to do things that are bad. How can we be truly alive? To be truly alive is to love. Love is the soul of life. Love builds and forms people and communities. If we sense that we are not life giving and are struggling to be life giving in our families, in our communities, in our society and in the Church, how can put the soul called love? Three ways. One, be constant. Two, be consistent. Three, be committed.
First, on constancy. There is a tendency among us that we want others to know that we love and are loving. We Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok our deeds of love. But do you think we are authentic if we are slaves of the eye? No. But time and space, seasons and places belong to God. More than these, God sees our hearts. Constancy in loving is living a life of creative fidelity. If love is the fulfillment of the law, love can never be legislated. Being good and doing good can never be conditioned by time and space. When somebody asks us, “What time is it?” Our reply is, “It’s time to love God!”
Second, on consistency. If someone is consistent in being good, virtues are formed and flourish. A virtuous person is a person of integrity. And integrity breeds trust. Notice that in the Gospel, Jesus, quoting the Torah, says, “The Lord our God is Lord alone!” which means that our God is one. Oneness in God is not just a number, a quantity. It is a quality. God as one means that there is integrity, unity and consistency in God. We are created by God in His image and likeness. If God is love, this love which is imprinted in our beings in eternity, makes us truly like Him. “Like Father, like children”, love makes us consistent with our identity. Love makes us truly human and fully divine. And these are manifested if we live our lives with integrity, in mind and heart, body and soul. Thus, we acclaim, “I love you Lord, my strength!”
Third, on commitment. The great commandment of love has two aspects: that of God and that for our neighbor. It is very easy to love God whom we do not see. But it is very difficult to love our neighbor. That is why many say that love is better said than done. But the Gospel challenges us all the more to rise beyond our human flaws by leading us all the more to what is really difficult. This Gospel challenge is therefore, our commitment that we shall do in progress. It is very hard to like those who cheat on us, who left us, who broke our hearts, who pulled us down and who hurt us. Yes. But the command of Jesus is not to like but to love. Let us commit ourselves to love those whom we find difficult to accept and to relate with by praying for them, by doing acts of kindness to them and by being gentle with them. If they can’t give love, most probably they’ve never received love at all. By doing this, we echo what the scribe said to Jesus, “And to love God with all your heart, understanding, strength and to love your neighbor as yourself” is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices”.
If someone tells you 1-4-3-4-4, just reply, 1-2-3. One: Love. Two: listen and live. Three: let’s be constant, consistent and committed. If our love is not “mega” because we are “nega”, let us heed the words of St Teresa of Calcutta, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” What time is it? It is time to love God and our neighbors as ourselves! Amen!
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