Fr. Americo Santos

Homily: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 29, 2023

Today, the church reminds us of the most important theological virtue, love. Most especially, Jesus gives us the two dimensions of love. The vertical love of God and the horizontal love of neighbour. When these two dimensions are perfectly practiced, a Christian can say: I am doing what Christian life is all about.

In the first reading of today, through Moses, God warns us: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien… “you shall not abuse any widow or orphan.” … “If you lend money to my people, to the poor one among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor” Of course, God reminds us that such acts would attract his anger upon the oppressor. Therefore, the lesson here is that we must treat others justly and with love. God does not like oppression and injustice, especially against the weak, the poor, and the defenseless.

In today’s gospel, the Pharisees asked Jesus another “difficult” question: “Teacher, which commandment in the Law is the greatest?” As usual, this was in order to test Him. A close look at Jesus’ response today reveals that Jesus presents us with the vertical dimension of love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all soul and with all mind”. It is important to understand that to love God with our bodies and souls requires a lot of sacrifice and humility, but it is possible. To love God is an essential requirement for us because we have been created to love Him. Our lives do not have any sense without loving and serving God.

The second dimension of love is horizontal: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. This is more difficult than the first. Sometimes we could think we can love God alone without loving our neighbours, however, this is not possible because God is present in them just as He is present in us. Hence, Christ reminds us that: “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1Jn 4, 20). So, the best way of expressing our love for God is by loving our neighbours. We must affect them positively in their lives in order to love God well.

In talking about love, its practice must begin at home, with our neighbours where we live, with our friends, with our acquaintances and all those around us every day. In this regard saint Augustine tells us: “Love and do whatever you will. Whether you hold your peace, through love, hold your peace; whether you cry out, through love, cry out; whether you correct, through love, correct; whether you spare, through love you must spare. Let the root of love be within. Of this root can nothing spring but what is good.” This is right because only by loving our neighbours we can worship and love God with our hearts, souls and minds. So that, practicing this second commandment, we get closer to God getting his peace and satisfaction.

My brothers and sisters, I ask you to reflect this week on these two commandments, which are united in themselves. If your heart identifies areas of weaknesses that need to be corrected to love God and others freely, pray to the Holy Spirit to come on you to sanctify you in Christ so you may be transformed in his likeness to overcome any impediment. May the grace of God work abundantly in every one of you.

May the God’s peace be with you all, Fr Americo Santos.