Love of God and Neighbor

October 31, 2021
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Readings for Today


“The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:31

The first and greatest Commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  But Jesus goes on to give us the second most important Commandment.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  

First of all, it’s important to point out that loving God with all your might is the greatest Commandment, in part, because unless you do so, you cannot also love your neighbor.  Love of neighbor hinges on whether you love God with your whole being.  Only when you love God can that love overflow into other relationships.

When you look at the love of neighbor as an effect of the overflow of your love of God, this second Commandment takes on a clearer meaning.  Jesus doesn’t only say to love your neighbor, He says to do so “as yourself.”  So how do you love yourself?  You do so primarily by fulfilling the First Commandment of the love of God.

Loving God with your whole self is, in fact, the best way to also love yourself.  Why?  Because we were made for love and communion with God.  Loving God is not some extra favor we do for God; rather, it’s a way of fulfilling the deepest meaning of who we are.  We are made for love and we are made for God.  Therefore, loving God is the best way to love yourself.

From this starting point, we then move to a better understanding of how we are called to love our neighbor.  If the fulfillment of loving yourself is found by loving God and being in an intimate relationship of love with God, then you love your neighbor as yourself by drawing your neighbor into a relationship of love with God also.  There is nothing you could do that is more loving for others than to act as a bridge between them and God.  And the more directly you act as that bridge, the greater your love for them and the more completely you fulfill this Commandment.

Reflect, today, upon the ways that you act as a bridge of love between God and others.  Recognize this as your absolute duty, privilege and honor.  Commit yourself to a wholehearted love of God and allow that love to overflow and be poured out upon all those with whom you encounter every day.  Love is contagious, and it must consume everything you are and everything you do.

Lord, I desire to love You with my whole being.  Increase my love for You and allow that love to overflow into every relationship I have in life.  May love be the one and only mission of my life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Christ preaching by Richard Parkes Bonington, via Wikimedia Commons