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Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Greatest Commandment

Jesus told us, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor and yourself. Upon these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22: 37-40)

Some time ago I taught the lesson on Catholic Social Teaching for my parish's RCIA class, thus, as anyone who is familar with the Social Doctrine knows, it is also hung upon the "Greatest Commandment".

Then today, I visited Jeff Cavins' website and found a post which inspired me to return to discuss Jesus' commandment. (Please go there and read the entire post as Jeff gives us some great food for thought.)

If the local newspaper had been following you around during this past week looking for evidence that you were a disciple of Christ, what evidence would be most convincing? Would it be the vision statement on for your corporation or apostolate? Would it be your ability to raise funds to drive your project? Would it be how many times you went to mass or prayed the rosary? What would be the most convincing evidence that would lead the reader to conclude that you were a Christian?

For weeks...nay, months, I have been working on this. My regular readers will remember my crisis in the week before Christmas, and what it comes down to is my own inability to follow the Greatest Commandment; for there is no way to show our love for God without displaying abundant love for our neighbor.

If someone was following me around with a camera, they would find only a hypocrite; I constantly complain, I express my irritation with people, and I probably do petty little things to express my displeasure. It is not a sin to be irritated by people; it is not a sin to become annoyed. But it becomes a sin when we give in to those irritations and forget the dignity inherent in each person, each of whom is made in the image nad likeness of God.

As Jeff points out so well in his commentary, we have to die to ourselves in order to live up to the directive Jesus provides us. But how often do we continue to place ourselves at the helm and the forefront?

A priest at our parish, in delivering his last Sunday homily with us, discussed this very message also. We so often forget to focus on the fact that when we look at another human being, we are looking at the image of God, and thus we owe that person the respect God gave them in their inherent dignity.

It is not easy to follow in Jesus' footsteps; we must all take up our crosses, die to ourselves, and bear the whips and thorns of everyday life, often delivered by other people. We must be willing to look them in the eye, and as Father pointed out, acknowledge their dignity even if we don't feel like it. Even if we are annoyed, even if we are having a bad day. We need to overcome our own willfulness and reach out with the love of Christ and be that light to the world.

3 comments:

smk said...

hey Adoro, welcome to the human race. Even those you & I think of as "living Saints" (ex: Mother Teresa, when she was alive) aren't found perfect every moment of every day. I know one priest who "caught" Mother Teresa getting irritated and angry with a woman who pushed forward to touch her during Mass. It's unreasonable to expect super-human piety or holiness from anyone, including yourself. Yes, we ALL need to grow in some way. Yes, dying to self is essential. But I expect that until I am 6 feet under, I'll be working on it!

Adoro Te Devote said...

smk ~ I really WISH I was expecting super-human piety from myself, but I can't even get to the baseline. Believe me, my self-critique is not scrupulosity. Just talk to my co-workers. Whenever I deal with a customer who irritates me, I hang up the phone and automatically make a snide comment. Sometimes using derogatory terms. I've gotten better, but more often than not, choice words still slip out. It's not good for others to hear, and it's not good for me to say that stuff ot begin with! But I'm sure I'll overcome this with God's grace and lots of perseverance. That, and when I die it likely won't be a problem anymore. :-)

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for posting this!