What is love? Love means different things to different people. For many people, love is that warm, fuzzy feeling that a person feels; whether this is with a spouse, a friend or even a pet. Once that warm, fuzzy feeling is gone, they feel that they are no longer in love, which leads to estrangement, abandonment, separation or divorce. Some people love God in much the same way, thinking that having a warm, fuzzy feeling with God is all there is to loving God. Now, let’s look at the Bible and find out what love is.
What Jesus called the first and greatest commandment comes from the Old Testament in the Book of Deuteronomy chapter 6:4-5, in which Moses said: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength!” This great commandment is called the Shema, a Hebrew word that means “Hear!” or “Listen!” It has three parts: a summons calling the people to listen, an affirmation that the Lord alone is God, and a command to love God with all of one’s heart, soul and strength.
Let us take a look at how the command to love God came about in the Book of Exodus: God formed Israel as His people by freeing them from slavery in Egypt; He established with them the covenant of Mount Sinai and, through Moses, gave them His law so that they would recognize Him and serve Him as the one true God. The law and the commandments were part of the covenant which God sealed with His people, as they promised to obey all that the Lord had commanded. The covenant meant that the people belonged to God, and their obedience to God’s commandments is a response to God’s loving initiative.
The intention of the Old Law was to emphasize the relationship between God and Israel. For the Israelites, love is the proper response to God, because God first loved them and made them His chosen people. Hence, we are talking about here a kind of love that is based on awe and respect; a love expressed in loyalty, service, and obedience to the Law; a love defined by the binding relationship of a covenant.
Love, therefore, is a relationship, a response and a covenant. Many people live up to the first two elements of love, but unfortunately, not to the third.
The Old Covenant between God and Israel prepared the way for the New and Everlasting Covenant in which the Son of God, by becoming incarnate and giving up His life, has united to Himself all mankind saved by Him. Christ’s death on the Cross is the Sacrifice of the New Covenant, which reconciles man to God through His Blood, which was poured out for many, for the forgiveness of their sins. The memorial of this New Covenant is accomplished in the Eucharist, which is the Covenant in which Jesus Christ united himself forever to the Church. We have become His people and He is our God; and we are to respond to the grace and truth given to us in Jesus Christ with love and faithfulness.
Many times, after an inspiration from the Holy Spirit, we set out to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. But when we encounter difficulties, criticism or opposition, we are easily discouraged; we become angry and we no longer have a loving heart. If we can only maintain a loving heart even in the midst of difficulties, criticism or opposition, then we would have succeeded to accomplish what we have set out to do.
Shema! Hear! Listen closely to Jesus’ words when He Instituted the Eucharist: take this all of you and eat it, this is my Body… take this all of you and drink from it, this is the cup of my Blood… It is a summons for us to partake in His love and to love others in the extraordinary way in which He loved us. Love is more than just a warm, fuzzy feeling. Love is a relationship, a response and a covenant. If our love is able to endure, to heal, reconcile and give peace, it is only because it imitates and participates in the love with which God has loved us first in His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ.
This year, November 1st falls on a Sunday. The Mass for the Solemnity of All Saints will be celebrated in lieu of the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. All are invited to bring pictures of deceased relatives.
Mass for the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed will be celebrated on Monday, November 2nd at 12pm. This Mass will be in English.
Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, November 1st. Remember to fall back one hour at 2am on November 1, 2020.