‘Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another’
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 6, 2020): EZ 33:7-9; PS 95:1-2,6-7,8-9; ROM 13:8-10; 2 COR 5:19; MT 18:15-20
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days
Love is a responsibility. Over and over in the Gospels, Jesus urges His followers to love God and to love one another. This was a message with which the Jewish people were quite familiar from their Scriptures. However, our Lord reinforced its importance with His words, His miracles and His mission. Most of all, His whole life revealed Him as love itself. The Son of God, completely Divine and completely human, offered Himself up in total sacrifice for our sins. And He asks us for the only gift that matters to Him: our love. Christ wants His disciples to love Him and that means turning our hearts over to Him. And so we must understand that loving our Lord means loving others. All others. Every single person. St. Paul put it this way: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments… are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).
We may feel that warm emotion that we often call love for many people, but not for everyone and certainly not all the time. We owe our neighbors our love, the same love we have for God and the same love we have for ourselves. There are not separate varieties of love. If we really believe that God is love, we need to act that way. We cannot pretend to love our Savior if we withhold our love from other people for whom He laid down His life. If I accept His gift of eternal redemption for myself, how can I honestly think I am more worthy than someone else – than anyone else? God’s law is love. This is not a sentiment. It is the essence of life.
Suggested missionary action: We need to meditate on our lives and how we can love our neighbors as ourselves more honestly and completely each day – especially those we may have had difficulty loving before this.