Jesus links Deuteronomy 4:4-6 with Leviticus 19:18 in responding to the scribe’s question: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Other rabbis had made this link before Jesus…and the agreement between the scribe and Jesus is a reflection of the Jewish thinking of his day.
Peter Maurin, a co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement with Dorothy Day, helps us understand the words of Jesus in today’s gospel: “If I cannot find the face of Jesus in the face of those who are my enemies, if I cannot find him in the unbeautiful, if I cannot find him in those who have the wrong ideas, if I cannot find him in the poor and the defeated, then I will not find him in the bread or the wine. If I do not reach out in this world to those with whom he has identified himself, why do I imagine that I want to be with him and them in heaven? Why do I think I want to be for all eternity in the company of those whose companionship I avoided every day of my life?”
We know that through the Sacrament of the Eucharist we receive the grace to love in the way that Peter Maurin describes, in the way that Jesus
describes in today’s gospel. The choice is ours, whether or not to put this sacrament into action, to act with the power of the grace received. This is the transforming power of this sacrament – when we love our neighbor.
Our love for God compels us to follow his command to come and worship together each Sunday – to nourish ourselves both through his words and in the Eucharist, his divine life. Then we can go forth to love our neighbor!
St. John wrote: “Whoever does not love a brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1Jn4:20)
May God bless us always!