“What’s the Golden Rule?” This question, used frequently as a reminder for good behavior has become commonplace in our society. We hear it all the time, spoken by Christians and non-Christians alike, as a model for living. And, chances are, the majority of children from age 6 on could give you the correct answer: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” While it’s a good message to teach our children, a crucial element has been removed – the part about love. We mustn’t be satisfied with good manners but should strive for much more: to love. Love is an essential part of what it means to be human.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that there is no other commandment greater than love for God and neighbor. But what does this mean and how do we achieve it? In trying to wrap our heads around a God who is almighty and omnipotent, we may ask, “Couldn’t God just make us love Him? After all, He’s God!” We may agree with this logic, yet we understand that forcing someone to love us would be contrary to the very nature and essence of love. Unlike so many other ideas in our society, true love cannot be legislated.
Because we were created by a loving God, the desire to emulate and reciprocate that love is at the core of our very being. This is what brings us fulfillment and makes us whole; it’s what lies at the heart of the Great Commandment and why Jesus calls us to live it. God’s supernatural love freely given to us (what we call grace) transforms our entire way of being and all that we say and do. He is both the source and the object of our love. Infused with that love, we can then do what at first seems impossible. Namely, we can love a God that we cannot see and touch by loving our neighbor who is right before us.
– Kelley Holy