Her Doctrine and Morals

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

16 September 2018


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Dear Friends,

The greatest and first commandment is love. Love of God and then to love our neighbor as ourselves. These two are so intimately connected that we have taken the liberty of treating them as one. We cannot say that we love God if we hate our neighbor, nor can we truly love our neighbor if we do not love God. Love is much more than a fleeting emotion or sentiment; it is even much more than an affection. True love is complete — with our entire heart, entire mind, and entire soul. Love is true when it penetrates and flavors or colors us completely — it affects all our physical or bodily aspects, all our mental and emotional properties, and especially it permeates our entire soul.

It is through love that we draw nearest to God, and by which we become most like Him. St. John instructs us that, "God is Love." When we truly love we know God, and we become like Him. Even more than this, love makes us one with God.

The enemies of Jesus were trying to entrap Him in their questions of the greatest commandment. This is truly for our benefit if we will learn the lesson that many in the world fail to understand. When Jesus asks them a question they are silenced, however, there is a wealth of information that we may glean from His question. How is it that David calls his own Son his Lord? How can the Son be the Lord of the father? The enemies of Jesus could only think in material ways and only considered the human generation of the Christ, rather than His Divine generation. They failed to understand that Jesus Christ is both God and Man. He is One Person with Two Natures. He is David's Lord because of His Divine Nature, as well as David's Son because of His Human Nature.

In considering the Divine Nature of Jesus we recall the teachings of our Holy Mother the Church. Jesus is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity — The Son of God. Equal to the Father and the Holy Ghost because of His Divinity. He is less than the Father and the Holy Ghost in His Humanity. We are naturally led to the question of why God sent His Son into this world? It was to suffer and die upon the cross and thus open the gates of Heaven for us. (Heaven was barred against us because of Original Sin.) However, if we dig a little bit deeper we find a more fundamental reason — love; God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us. We see at the root of our entire relationship with God the element of love.

From all of eternity, God has loved us. He desires our eternal union with Him in Heaven. His love has moved Him to offer us every help and aid that we may need. He has even given us much more than we actually need. His love has done more for us than we can even imagine. His love has brought us forth into existence. He showers us with His grace — all because He loves us. However, Love seeks to be loved. An essential element of love is that it must be free and not coerced. Hence Love (God) invites us and does not force us to love Him.

The commandment is given to those who do not yet love. The child that has not yet discovered the love his parents have for him, must be commanded to love them. Once he sees and understands how much he is loved, he more naturally reciprocates this love. The same is true in our relationship with God. As long as we are blinded by sin or are mere infants in the spiritual life, we are self-centered, we do not understand the love that is given us, nor do we strive to reciprocate that love. Hence, it is necessary that we receive a command.

Once we begin to love, there is no longer any need for the commandment. Love truly sets us free. For those who love there are no laws. We rise from servants to the status of children of God — from slavery to freedom. Freedom is not independence from God. On the contrary, love sets us free and freedom allows us to draw ever closer to the object of our love — God.

True love begets true freedom, and true freedom draws us ever more intimately to God. As love draws us nearer and nearer to God, sin is washed from our souls and we become cleaner. The turning away from sin and the increasing use of mortifications, and the sacrament of Penance are not heavy burdens when there is true love in the heart. We consider even the greatest sacrifices as nothing in the pursuit of Love.

The greatest commandment is Love. It is Love that sent Jesus to redeem and save us. It is the love of God that freed David so that he could prophetically call his Son, His Lord. It is true love that frees our souls to become One with Jesus Christ. At this point, the law or the commandment fades away and disappears because coercion is no longer necessary. We are so transformed that our very being becomes nothing but love. We are, in a way, assimilated as One with Love. Love makes us One with God, and God is Love.

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