The Significance of Love

In the Gospel reading today, the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. He responded: “You shall 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 is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This pretty much sums up all the commandments, does it not? We must love our Lord with all of our being. And we must love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It seems easy. But, like many things in life, it’s easier said than done. First, let’s understand what love really means, as lots of people use the word to indicate a strong desire for something (like pizza or chocolate) or to indicate that they especially like something. While we can really like chocolate, adore koalas, or be fond of an excellent movie, that isn’t the meaning of love that Christ was referring to. The love Christ meant goes much deeper than a strong desire or proclivity for something.  He wants us to love Him above all else. And that love requires action. If we truly love God above all else, that means we pray throughout the day, we talk about our faith proudly, we go to confession regularly, we cherish the reception of His body in the Eucharist, and we glorify Him in all we do. In short, we develop a relationship with God, and we work on strengthening that relationship every single day. That is the love He commands from us. Loving others as we love ourselves means that we want what’s best for the other person. It means that we never wish any harm to come to them. We don’t speak ill of them. We treat them kindly and with compassion. And when Christ said to love our neighbor, He didn’t mean just our friends. Friends are easy to love. He meant everyone around us. That means we have to love the cashier at the grocery store, the bothersome person at work, the politician we dislike, or the person who has wronged us.  That is the hard part of God’s commandment. But we must also remember that loving others does not mean condoning bad behavior. It means treating them kindly, praying for them, serving as a good example, and teaching them about God. Indeed, we must be the light of Christ to them. When we faithfully follow these two commandments, we will not only find ourselves growing closer to God, but we will also make our world a better place. And this will lead to an eternity with God that begins with “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Contact the author

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.

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