Fr. Ren Ligeralde, CJM
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is how Jesus expressed the greatest commandment in the Gospel.
This commandment to love God is shown in the second reading. Paul reminds the readers how the people of Thessalonica followed the commandment of God by turning to God from their idols. They become an inspiration to other people.
Now, the first reading is a list of commandments on how to love one’s neighbor. The Lord said, “You shall not molest or oppress an alien…You shall not wrong any widow or orphan…you shall not extract interest from a poor person…You shall return the cloak of a person before sunset.” Because all of these are considered social evil if not properly observed.
Actually, these social evils are sins against both God and human beings. Because God is the Creator of human beings whom God created in His own image and likeness. Therefore, disrespecting the creation is equivalent to disrespecting the Creator. A person cannot say that he/she loves God if he/she cannot love his/her neighbor. According to 1 John 4:20-21, “Those who say ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or a sister whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” Oppressing a person is oppressing God. One must also be reminded that in Matthew 25:40 Jesus warned the people through a parable about this matter, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
In other words, the readings remind the readers that it is impossible for a real Christians to separate one’s love to God and one’s love to his/her neighbor. There is no compartmentalization when it comes to love.
Lord, our Father and Creator, you showed us your unfathomable love by sending your only begotten Son to save us. Your Son showed his love for you by loving his neighbor even it could mean his death, death on the cross. Allow us, his brothers and sisters to have the same love. May you grant us all the graces and blessings that we need to follow his example. Amen.