“We Proclaim Love”
October 25, 2020: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 1; 1Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
The summary of the Law came from the Israel’s Shema which means to hear or to heed. It is to listen with an intention to understand so we can apply what we have heard. When we say our “Amen” it is our legal binding commitment or covenant that says, “If I don’t follow to what I said “Amen” to, then, I suffer the consequence.” It is the first and great commandment in the kingdom of God according to its King. One of our Christmas songs says, “His law is love, and His gospel is peace.” This is the foundation of the kingdom of God.
The Jews before recited the Shema three times a day. It is the same teaching as Jesus Christ and yet they missed the Messiah. In the gospel, a rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him, “You know the commandments: love God and love your neighbor...” The young ruler said, “I obeyed those in my youth,” and Jesus, with compassion said, “One thing you lack: obey the commandments but this time with love.”
In 1 Corinthians 13, St. Paul said that we can have a form of godliness. We can have the gift of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, and even give possessions to feed the poor, have our body burned, but if we do these things without love, it profits us nothing. We can serve the poor, but at the same time trample on their dignity. Caregivers who take care of the sick, but it is an employment to them. The same good deeds can be an employment or act of love. It is duty versus true ministry, but the big difference is our motivation in doing a deed.
Love is pursuing the good of another – not perfunctorily, not by rote or mechanically, not just a requirement or an employment, but love coming from a sincere heart. Love always takes the initiative. In Psalm 32:9 says, “Don’t be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.” Love initiates and it can’t be in a prompt mode. Love is active and it initiates in pursuing the good of others. God, out of love, created all of creation and He told Himself to do it. “Let Us” in creation was an initiative of the Godhead. He told Himself, “I will give My life for their sake. He told Himself, “I will forgive them.” That is their nature; nobody told Them. Nobody forced them. God initiates His love.
Sometimes, we love even to our own hurt. When we become kind to a person, sometimes, we turn out to be the bad guy. 2 Timothy 3:12 says that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. It is part of the price, but the mandate doesn’t change: to serve others, not ourselves. This mandate was given to Adam and he was fulfilling it for a while. He was in dominion over the earth not by lording over it, but serving them. The moment that Adam started serving himself, that was the time he fell. The second Adam came to serve and not to be served, and this is the real Adam – serving others and not self.
We are to love God first and then our neighbor. If we love God, we will love our neighbor. If we love God, our hearts will be pure. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” Not in the afterlife, but right now. Jesus said that we see Him and God in the least of our brothers, in the lost and in the lonely. When see God in our brother, then, we will love our brother as well. If we do, then, we will regard one another as more important than ourselves. If we don’t see God in them, then, to us, godliness will be for self-gain.
In 1Timothy 6, it says that to some, godliness becomes a business because it is for material gain for self. 1Timothy 6:6 says that actually, true godliness is really a great profit if it is accompanied with contentment and understanding that God takes care of us and we have more than enough because of Him in our lives. God wants us truly blessed, not just superficially but with the prosperity that the world offers.
1 Corinthians 13 says if there is no love, it profits us nothing. If we do have love, there is real profit and great gain for us. But again, godliness is truly profitable when accompanied by contentment. On contentment, Proverbs 30:8-9 says, "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but just enough for my needs. If I have too much, I might say, ‘God? Who needs Him?’” If we have a bank account and money, we may say that we don’t need God. “If I’m poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God." Solomon, the writer of this Proverb said to God, “Just give me enough. Do not make me wealthy that I might dishonor You.” Contentment is seeing others blessed realizing that we are taken care of by God. We love God and our neighbor.
One time, I fetched my daughter and we took the Skyway and had a flat tire. Unfortunately, I had no tools to aide me in fixing my tire. No car was stopping and after about fifteen minutes, out of nowhere, a car stopped and three men helped us. They had complete tools and they did not allow me to do the task. They left after helping me and for them, there was no other agenda but to help. I said to myself, “Maybe their names are Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.”
Romans 9:3 said, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ, if that would mean that my fellow Israelites would be saved.” He was giving life to the Jews that have hurt and persecuted him. He was indiscriminately doing it for others. For Moses, he interceded before God for his grumbling Israelite brothers and asked forgiveness from God for them. Moses, after serving God for 80 years, was denied entry to the Promised Land, but he did not complain or wield his resume to show the ministry that he had done for God. He didn’t envy, disparage, undermine, sabotage, or bad-mouthed his successor, Joshua.
Love doesn’t count the bad deeds of others and it doesn’t boast on one’s own good deeds. Leave the rewarding to God. Don’t call in a chit. Moses found joy in seeing the next generation enter. Being the generation now in our Church, we should be giving of ourselves and our hearts in preparing the next generation, and we do it sacrificially for love is pursuing the good of others.
The question is: did Moses enter the Promised Land? He died not entering the Promised Land, but in the New Testament, in the mount of Transfiguration, he had a front row seat with Jesus Christ Himself and Elijah. So we see that God rewarded Moses. God is a Rewarder. He wants us to be blessed, and His blessings are eye has not seen nor ear heard so don’t grow weary in doing good for others. Love is the grain of the kingdom of God. Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, might and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we follow these commandments, it will not earn us eternal life; obeying them is eternal life. If we understand this, we will discover the joy of the Lord and we will discover the way it is in the kingdom of our God.