Fr. Nathaniel's Notions

April 30, 2017

When someone asks Jesus, "Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?" he replies: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2052 and following.)

In his own life, Jesus gives us an example of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves. In fact, he restates this second greatest commandment, when he says: "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34). "What did our Lord mean when he said, 'Love one another as I have loved you?' I made you lovable by loving you. If we had no book, then, no tape recorder, nothing else to meditate on for the rest of our lives, except 'Love one another as I have loved you,' we wouldn't ever run out of material. And even on our deathbed we would have to tell God to wait--we haven't finished our meditation. If we were really to think profoundly about this, dear sisters, we would wake up. We are supposed to act toward one another as God acts." (Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. But I Have Called You Friends, p.27)

We are supposed to act as God acts. Consider how God acts in our Gospel today: Jesus greets the travelers, chats with them as they walk along, and stays to eat with them. He is friendly to them. Throughout his time on Earth Jesus engaged people in friendly ways: greeting hem warmly, walking with them, talking with them, partying with them. Friendship was central to his ministry. The very structure of his ministry was to gather twelve men around him and share life with them so that he could call them friends (John 15:15). We should act as God acts: gathering friends to share life together. 

The second greatest commandment requires us--not simply to have warm feeling for the mass of humanity--but it requires us to have real friendships with the particular people who share our little area of life: real love will build meaningful friendships with our neighbors. Take time this week for a walk with friends, for a meaningful conversation, for a meal; you too might be surprised by the ways God reveals himself in the midst of breaking bread together with friends. 

~Fr. Nathaniel