A parish priest was giving a conference to a group of parents. In his talk he emphasized the importance of love in action especially in the family because “there can be no love without sacrifice.” After his conference, he distributed crosses to each couple a crucifix with the instruction: “Place this crucifix in your room where you quarrel most of the time. Looking at Jesus, it may help you remember his challenge to love one another.”
A wife came forward with the request: “Father, may I have five instead of one? I need to put a crucifix in every room of our house!”
In today’s gospel (Mt 22:34-40), Jesus reminds of the importance of love. We need to love God and love our neighbor. For Jesus, love is the greatest. Love is the most essential thing. Love is everything! He shows us that our loving has two dimensions:
1. We need to love God above all. It’s the vertical dimension. It shows our connectedness to God. He should be first and foremost in our lives. For this reason Jesus stresses that we love God with all our heart, all our mind and all our soul. We show this by living God-centered lives. He becomes the center of our striving and our relationships.
2. We need to love one another. This is the horizontal dimension. In the early Church the story is told about John, the beloved disciple of Jesus who spent the twilight years of his life in Ephesus. Every Sunday he would be carried in the midst of the congregation assembled for worship because though enfeebled with age, he continued preaching. Not being able anymore to deliver any long discourse, without fail he would repeat a five-word sermon over and over again: “My children, love one another.” When a disciple asked him why he kept on repeating the same message, John replied: “Because its from the Lord; and it’s the most important!”
In his younger years, John acted rashly, recklessly, impetuously and aggressively. He had an untamed temper; had an elitist attitude and highly ambitious. But he aged gracefully that in his later years he was called the apostle of love.
He began to understand the need for humility being a witness of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus’ selfless sacrifice must have impacted John greatly because from thereon his life was characterized by his willingness to serve others and suffer for the sake of the gospel. He must have realized that the only way to honor the Jesus that he knew and loved was to make him known to as many people he could. His experience of God’s love naturally flowed in his compassion for others.
Indeed as there is truth in the saying: “where love and charity is, God is there.” God reigns.
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