One of the early messages of Pope Francis was that the Church must become more pastoral and less dogmatic. God’s mercy and compassion continue to be central to Pope Francis’ message.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Christ brings together two laws to become one of his central messages.
He takes different and separate laws from Deuteronomy and Leviticus—to love God with all that we have and above all, and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.
While is seems common to us now, this was a bold move during the time of Christ.
We see this in the context of this whole chapter, where prior to this exchange with the scribes, Christ had run-ins with the Pharisees, Herodians and the Sadducees. The religious authorities Christ criticized with the opening parable of this chapter.
The chapter ends with Christ condemning the distortion of religion by the religious authorities, the scribes included, and praising the poor widow and her coin offering, the widow’s mite.
We appreciate better how this Sunday’s Gospel becomes Christ’s pivot to bring religion back to its center and core—our relationship with God and with one another, “rooted and grounded in love.”
Topic of debate
It is noteworthy that during Christ’s time, this was a central topic of debate between the rabbinic schools. It was synthesizing the hundreds of laws and rules during the time of Moses to fewer ones leading to the time of Christ.
Christ becomes the final synthesis of the law to love God and one another as he has loved us. Allow me to invite you to reflect on how we have lived or desire to live such a life of love.
For sentimental reasons, I turn to “Fill the World with Love” from the movie “Good-bye, Mr. Chips.”
“In the morning of my life I shall look to the sunrise. At a moment in my life when the world is new. And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me, to be brave and strong and true, and to fill the world with love my whole life through.
“In the noontime of my life I shall look to the sunshine, at a moment in my life when the sky is blue. And the blessing I shall ask shall remain unchanging, to be brave and strong and true, and to fill the world with love my whole life through.
“In the evening of my life I shall look to the sunset, at a moment in my life when the night is due. And the question I shall ask only I can answer, ‘Was I brave and strong and true? Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?’”
This is the synthesis of the greatest commandment of love. It begins with God’s love, with the acknowledgment that in him alone is our very existence, and he alone is the source of grace.
Our love of God begins with this humble, yet liberating radical surrendering and embracing of His love and grace.
Live life, fill the world with love. This is as radical as life can get—the same way Christ laid it out to the scribes in today’s Gospel. The same way Pope Francis started his Papacy and changed the world for the better. –CONTRIBUTED