Love God, Self and Neighbor

30th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Deacon Robin Mendonca

Preached: October 25, 2020

Mother Teresa always taught her sisters that the challenges that are placed before us by other people can be met only if human beings are motivated by a love and a respect for one another which looks beyond faults, differences, ulterior motives, success and failure. Out Gospel and our First reading talk about this today and tell us that the first place to choose this type of love is by loving God with all that we are.

Love of God

God says to love Him all your heart, soul and mind.

With all your heart can be translated to all your will. With what we do with our physical bodies; by our actions and the choices that we make.

With all your soul. Our soul is what animates us. In many ways our soul is the life force within us. When we die it’s our soul that leaves our body and returns to God. So when we hear soul we can think. Is my life centered around loving God?

With all my mind refers to my intellect. Do I make it a conscious priority to seek the things of God and to remind myself of the truths that God has revealed?

Heart mind and soul really make up the complete human person and that’s what God is asking us. To love him with our complete selves.

Love of Neighbour: Love of Self

The next is loving our neighbour there’s sort of two elements to this. Because notice that in the gospel Jesus says that we must love each other as we love ourselves. So to love others, we need to be able to love ourselves; that’s sort of the pre-requisite. It’s sort of the most basic love. It might seem strange because you’ve probably been taught not to be selfish and self centred. BUT loving oneself is more about accepting the way we’ve been made and recognising our good qualities and deficiencies and not being overly concerned about what others think. It doesn’t mean we don’t strive to become better but it’s a recognition and a deep knowledge that we are worthy of love because we are first loved by God. So this is the first element of loving our neighbour.

Love of Neighbour: Love others

The second element is also what Jesus is saying. We must love each other. IN the end it’s all connected because we cannot truly love God without loving our neighbour.  And to love our neighbor means to want their good.

So can we honestly say that we want the good of everyone? I mean, I’m sure we want the good of those that we like. That’s not hard to do. But do I want the good of those that I dislike? What about those who struggle in life? What about those I disagree with; we have a lot of disagreement in the world on literarily everything but can I love these people. Another way of putting this is, do I want even the people I dislike or disagree with to be in heaven with me? This is important to think about because being with God is the ultimate good.

But here on earth we can also show our love for our neighbour through our actions. We can act to help those around us whether they are in our families or in our communities.  Those on the streets who are poor. Those who are marginalized; those who have no one around them and are lonely. Those who are suffering.

Be “God Centred” and “Others Centred”

Going back to our first point we need to have a healthy love of self because that allows us to put others ahead of ourselves. We can’t be self absorbed because self-absorption leads only to loneliness and isolation. Being “God-centered” and “others centered” is key to our happiness and fulfillment. To love others means to seek their true good and to serve them out of love for the Lord.  AND the more we love authentically, the more fulfilled our life will become.

Going back to Mother Teresa. In Calcutta, India, there is a children’s home founded by Mother Teresa which today is operated by the Missionaries of Charity. On the wall of the home hangs a sign which reads:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow’
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you help them.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

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