30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 29, 2017)

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us to love God and neighbor. These two commandments are the foundation of Christian Spirituality and permeate the writings of St. Francis de Sales:

To show us more vividly how ardent God’s desire is for our love, God demands that love from us in wonderful terms: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” We often think that God is so great and we are so little that we are incapable of loving God. So as not to be discouraged and turn away from God’s love, we are told that we are highly capable of loving God with all our strength, even after sin.

To love God above all else means we need to place God above all our idols, for our heart runs after many material things and spiritual consolations. As soon as we have obtained them, it seems that we have to do it all over again. Nothing can ever satisfy our heart. God wills that our heart not find a place of permanent rest in our idols. Then our heart is free to return to God from whom it comes. Bees can only rest upon flowers in bloom. So it is with our heart. Our heart finds rest solely in God’s love. Why then do we detain our heart’s desire for God’s love, and pursue other loves?

The Commandment to love God is higher than the Commandment to love the neighbor. But our nature offers greater resistance to the love of neighbor. Yet, when we trust in our Savior’s love, we can be more courageous in loving the image of God that is frequently veiled from us in our neighbor. We come to recognize the resemblance of the Creator in each other. For, the pure love of God is to love what is of God in all creatures. Let us then imitate Jesus, who taught us more through His works than His words, how to love our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as we do our own self.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially Treatise on the Love of God).