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30th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – MATHEW 22: 34-40

In the gospel, Jesus summarizes the whole of the Law in two great commandments: “Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” To love our neighbor is not very difficult, as long as the neighbor is very nice and trying to love us. The challenge is always when the neighbor is a really difficult person and who is really making trouble for us; then it is not easy to love this neighbor. The basic thing is that the more we know that God loves us, the more we can love others.

Saint John Paul II shows the meaning of true love through his own life: True love accepts suffering, especially when this suffering can lead to purification and the deepening of love. True love is able to see the divine shining through all that is, especially through that which is broken. True love demands total sacrifices and self-giving.

Let me share with you a powerful story: One day, a young boy and girl fell in love. But the boy came from a very poor family, so the girl’s parents were not very happy. Gradually the parents noticed that this young man was very good to their daughter. But, there was another problem, the man was a soldier. Soon war broke out and he was being sent to the foreign land for a year. The week before he left, the man asked his girlfriend, “Will you marry me?” She wiped her tears and said, “Yes, I will marry” and they were engaged. They agreed that when he got back in one year, they would get married. But, tragedy struck. A few days after he left, the girl had a major car accident. She suffered a brain injury and her face was very seriously damaged. After she saw her face in the mirror, she herself said, “Yesterday, I was beautiful, today, I look horrible”. Gradually, she decided to break her relationship with her boyfriend. She knew that he would not like her if he see her face. Slowly, she tried to forget about him and she did not want to see him again. The boyfriend wrote many letters but she did not answer. He phoned her many times but she refused to talk to him.

After one year, her mother walked into her room and said, “He is back from the war.” The girl shouted, “No! Please tell him I don’t want to see him.” The mother said, “He is getting married.” And handed her a wedding invitation. With great sadness and shock, she opened the wedding invitation and she saw her name on it. She was confused and she asked, “What is going on?” Suddenly, her boyfriend entered her room with a bunch of flowers. He knelt beside her and asked, “Will you marry me.? The girl covered her face with her hand and said, “I am ugly!” The man said, “Without your permission, your mother sent me photos of you. When I saw your photos, I realized that nothing has changed. You are still the beautiful person that I fell in love with. You are still as beautiful as ever…. because I love you.”

This touching story gives us the message that – love is not having a beautiful face but it is rather a beautiful soul. A real beauty shows not in the physical appearance, but in the heart of the person. The real treasure is not shown in what that can be seen, but what that cannot be seen! To truly love someone means loving that person unconditionally. We have to love them as they are, just as they were before, as just as they will be in the future.

Let us experience God’s, unconditional love. God loves us in our weakness, in our fallen and sinful conditions. God loves us wholeheartedly and completely: there is no holding back and God’s love is not subject to changing moods or circumstances. God loves us unconditionally and sacrificially. Let us ask ourselves: “Do we freely accept God’s love and do we willingly choose to obey God’s commandment of loving our neighbor?” We should express our real love through our actions and it should show in how we help, support, encourage, and forgive our brothers and sisters. We love others by refusing to hold grudges for wrongs done to us. We also express love through encouragement and by helping others to grow in holiness. Let us practice God’s love in our everyday lives and pray that through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we will be given new freedom to love as God loves us!