THIRTIETHSUNDAY A: Homily by Fr. Matthias Lusembo

THEME: LET US LOVE GOD CORDIALLY AND OUR NEIGHBOR AS OURSELVES

Objective: To Put Love into Practice

The public teaching of Jesus at Jerusalem is coming to an end. His passion is approaching. It is a period of intensive doctrine. Pharisees, the leaders of the interpretation of the law, put Jesus a precise and fundamental question: “Which is the greatest commandment of the law?” (Mt 22:36) Meaning the most important law from which others (612) acquire their significance. The Lord answers quoting Dt 6:5, he says: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

The HEART is the center of feelings; the implication is that we should love God with all our feelings; feeling that we love him. The SOUL is the principal of life; that means: We should love God with all our life. The MIND searches; hence we should search for him, to know him more and more. Jesus comments that this is the first and greatest commandment without which the rest would be meaningless. One cannot transmit love to other people without being fully connected to the source of Love, God Himself. Therefore, our priority is to love God. But how can we verify this love? Only by praying and sacrificing to God?

Quoting Leviticus 19:18, Jesus gives us an answer: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” The connection between the two commandments is that if you really love God then you will verify that love by loving your neighbor. That is to say, if you love your neighbor you are indirectly loving his or her Creator.

But who is my neighbor? The one, who needs to be evangelized by you. So that he/she may come to share the Catholic blessings with you. The one you live with; the one you work with; the one you encounter; the stranger; the widow; the orphan (Ex 22:21-23); those burdened by mortgages; the one in any kind of need. But how can I love him or her? Christ simply answers: “As yourself.”

But how do I love myself? Well I want to feel happy, satisfied. I want to be respected, loved, helped, forgiven, paid a just salary. I want to eat well, sleep well, study well, pray. Above all, I want to be saved and enjoy eternal life in heaven. All these things that I wish myself I should also wish my neighbor. And I should see to it that his or her needs are satisfied. It is my duty to look around, to compare my situation with that of my neighbor. If he or she is still worse off than me, spiritually or materially why not share with him or her what I have?

We should not forget that the imbalance in intelligence, strength, opportunities and chances among people is a test of our brotherly love, like it was in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31). When we go to receive the body of Christ, without making an effort to invite lapsed Catholics and non-Catholics to become practicing Catholics, we act like the rich man who ate alone and neglected Lazarus and our fate is likely to be the same as that of the rich man.

In Jn 6:53-54 Christ says: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” The best way we can show love to our neighbors is by bringing them to eternal life. That implies bringing them to receive the body of Christ, which can only be found in the Catholic Church and in the Churches that are in Communion with the Catholic Church.

What we are and what we have are enough to motivate us to love God and our neighbor. If God and parents had not joined efforts, you and I would not have come into existence. Your body, my body is a contribution of the mother and father. For nine months our mothers were our everything: our food, our drink, our restroom, our play-round and our bed. You and I arrived on earth completely and shamelessly naked and fragile.

We depended and still depend on some one’s love in order to survive. In fact, I am because we are. How many plants and animals have sacrificed their lives to sustain and develop my body? How many people have contributed to the knowledge I have? Surely, I have a big debt to love God and my neighbor. Have I loved to the maximum? As we have heard during the second reading (1Thes 1:5-10) Thessalonians loved generously by spreading the Word of God; Am I doing the same?

In the Holy Eucharist we celebrate the fact that Jesus loved us to the maximum, by giving up His body and blood for our salvation. He is now challenging us to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as we love ourselves, above all, by inviting and preparing lapsed Catholics and non Catholics to receive the body and blood of Christ so that they may have eternal life and by electing leaders who will share the country’s resources with those in need.  

Homework: Luke 16:19-31 and or 1 Cor 13.