For such a short Gospel passage we are faced today with a most challenging text, one that goes to the very heart of our trials and failures.
To love ourselves and to love others can be extremely difficult. On the failure of these two commands may as well be pinned the majority of suffering in our lives.
How can we love others when we do not love ourselves?
Love is tremendously misunderstood. The love that Christ gives to us has a footprint to the cross, where he gave his life for us. This great act epitomises the love that he wishes us to live by.
The unspoken truth in today’s Gospel is that we should indeed love ourselves, that there is value in doing so, according to Jesus. And, whilst that love does not resemble self pamper and buying ourselves expensive gifts, it does require being at peace with ourselves. It requires us to take ourselves and our needs seriously. Jesus would not be trampled on, and made his message known even to the point of overturning the vendor’s tables in the temple. But he also gave his life for us, because he knew that it was the right thing to do.
Our own sense of self love may be warped by the understanding of love that has now gripped our society. Jesus’s love is not selfish, it does not hinge on worldly wealth and power. None of that matters to Christ. And it should not matter to us.
How are we going to demonstrate the love of Christ to ourselves and to others in the next week? What little calvaries shall we walk to bring Jesus’s love and strength to people? What does love really mean to us? Is love something that can be traced back to Christ and the Gospels, or is it a quasi love manufactured by our culture? Let us strive this week to read the Gospels in search of the love of God, and allow ourselves to be transformed by it. And let us love ourselves by shedding our imperfect understandings of love for that of Jesus. A life’s work, for sure. But we have this week to begin again.
The Lord be with you
And with your spirit.
A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew 22:34-40
Glory to you, O Lord
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees they got together and,
to disconcert him, one of them put a question,
‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’
‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second resembles it:
You must love your neighbour as yourself.
On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.