Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless all of you!
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Ex 22:20-26; 1Thes 1:5c-10; Matt 22:34-40
October 25, 2020
“Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter three times after the resurrection. “Do you love me above all things?” God asks us today, in this Gospel. “If you do,” God says, “then love those I have put into your life: mother and father, husband or wife, son and daughter, parish and community, and all those strangers you will come across in your life, in other words, your neighbor.” Yes, to first love God is to then love our neighbor.
What does it mean to truly love someone? To love is to choose the good of another. It is to want what is truly good for someone, the highest and lasting good. To love someone is easier to say than to do because sometimes the greatest good is not what we might first think. It is not the most expensive house, car, or birthday gift. It is not a material thing at all. It is not something that passes into disrepair, or corrodes, or disintegrates. Rather, love is, “a pearl of great price” to use a phrase the Lord used.
To love God is something the heart gives, not something money buys. It is to give Him a pearl of lasting value, i.e., praise, worship, honor, respect, and obedience, and then to let him fill us with his love.
We cannot buy obedience, praise, honor, respect and worship and put under God’s Christmas tree. It must come from inside us, from our wills. It is a decision we make.
To love God is to choose and want God as God not as an idol we have made in our own image to which we are slaves. To love God is worth more than any burnt offering, as we hear in the Gospel. To love God is to give God his due: our obedient hearts, joyful praise, highest honor, and respect in every way. All of us, rich and poor, old or young, must give these to Him. All of us must love God with our hearts, souls, and minds, with every ounce of our being. Do we honor his name, or misuse it when we speak? Do we worship him at this altar where he desires to be worshipped, or do we create altars that seem more convenient to us on Sundays? Do we praise him with our words, our songs, and our thoughts, or do we use disrespectful words, songs, and thoughts? Do we obey his commandments, or our own?
Do we love our neighbor as ourselves? We must admit the answer is usually, “No.” How can we want, will, and choose the greatest good for someone when we have neglected the first and greatest commandment — to first love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls? We struggle to love those entrusted to us because we have not first loved God — given Him His due — and thus we deprive ourselves of his love for us which he gives us. How can we live closed off from God and his love for us and expect to truly love others? If we do not have a love for God and the love of God inside of us, how can we really love someone else? I cannot give what I do not have, and if I do not have a love for God and his love for me in my heart, how can I love others?
Love God! Worship only him! Give him the highest honor! Speak his name respectfully! Obey him before all others! If we do these, then loving our neighbor will become second nature, a simple matter, a joyful decision, and something you will deeply desire out of love for God, and love from God.