Charity: the greatest commandment

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 22:34-40

The readings reveal the practical, even the most basic aspect of the faith as revealed during the time of Moses till Jesus: love of God and neighbor.  God loves the poor that usurers would be punished severely.  God will retaliate; he will come to the aid of the poor.

In the New Testament, Jesus summarized the Law into two: "You must 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 resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also."

These laws are summarized in one theological virtue: charity.

First, Jesus puts it most aptly in his law of love: "Love one another as I have loved you."  This implies that love for God and neighbor are not two distinct realities.  Our love for God should result in an unconditional regard for others; our love for others should transcend to its deepest meaning in love for God.

Second, charity results in an unconditional adherence to God's commandments.  Jesus said,"Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love" (Jn 15: 10).

Third, watch for the fruits of love: "joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest" (CCC 1829).

Heed St. Paul's words: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" ( 1 Cor 13: 13).