Books of the Bible Index of Homilies
Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Tobit Judith Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs The Book of Wisdom Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
Today’s Gospel Reading reminds us that the whole of Divine Law can be summed up in our love for God and neighbour. Matthew the Evangelist recounts that several Pharisees colluded to put Jesus to the test (cf. 22: 34-35). One of them, a doctor of the law, asked him this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” (v. 36). Jesus, quoting the Book of Deuteronomy, answered: “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” (vv. 37-38). And he could have stopped there. Yet, Jesus adds something that was not asked by the doctor of the law. He says, in fact: “And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (v. 39). And in this case too, Jesus does not invent the second commandment, but takes it from the Book of Leviticus. The novelty is in his placing these two commandments together — love for God and love for neighbour — revealing that they are in fact inseparable and complementary, two sides of the same coin. You cannot love God without loving your neighbour and you cannot love your neighbour without loving God. Pope Benedict gave us a beautiful commentary on this topic in his first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (nn. 16-18).
In effect, the visible sign a Christian can show in order to witness to his love for God to the world and to others, to his family, is the love he bears for his brothers. The Commandment to love God and neighbour is the first, not because it is at the top of the list of Commandments. Jesus does not place it at the pinnacle but at the centre, because it is from the heart that everything must go out and to which everything must return and refer.
In the Old Testament, the requirement to be holy, in the image of God who is holy, included the duty to care for the most vulnerable people, such as the stranger, the orphan and the widow (cf. Ex 22:20-26). Jesus brings this Covenant law to fulfilment; He who unites in himself, in his flesh, divinity and humanity, a single mystery of love.
Now, in the light of this Word of Jesus, love is the measure of faith, and faith is the soul of love. We can no longer separate a religious life, a pious life, from service to brothers and sisters, to the real brothers and sisters that we encounter. We can no longer divide prayer, the encounter with God in the Sacraments, from listening to the other, closeness to his life, especially to his wounds. Remember this: love is the measure of faith. How much do you love? Each one answer silently. How is your faith? My faith is as I love. And faith is the soul of love.
In the middle of the dense forest of rules and regulations — to the legalisms of past and present — Jesus makes an opening through which one can catch a glimpse of two faces: the face of the Father and the face of the brother. He does not give us two formulas or two precepts: there are no precepts nor formulas. He gives us two faces, actually only one real face, that of God reflected in many faces, because in the face of each brother, especially of the smallest, the most fragile, the defenceless and needy, there is God’s own image. And we must ask ourselves: when we meet one of these brothers, are we able to recognize the face of God in him? Are we able to do this?
In this way, Jesus offers to all the fundamental criteria on which to base one’s life. But, above all, He gave us the Holy Spirit, who allows us to love God and neighbour as He does, with a free and generous heart. With the intercession of Mary, our Mother, let us open ourselves to welcome this gift of love, to walk forever with this two-fold law, which really has only one facet: the law of love.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
This Sunday, the Liturgy presents us with a brief, but very important Gospel passage (Mt 22:34-40). Matthew the Evangelist recounts that the Pharisees assemble in order to put Jesus to the test. One of them, a doctor of the Law, asks him this question: “Teacher, which one is the great commandment in the law?” (v. 36). It is an insidious question, because more than 600 precepts are mentioned in the Law of Moses. How should the great commandment be distinguished among these? But Jesus responds without hesitation: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. And he adds: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (vv. 37, 39).
This response of Jesus is not to be taken for granted, because, among the numerous precepts of the Hebrew Law, the most important were the 10 Commandments, communicated directly by God to Moses, as the conditions of the Covenant with the people. But Jesus wants to make it understood that without love for God and for our neighbour there is no true fidelity to this Covenant with the Lord. You may do many good things, fulfil many precepts, many good things, but if you do not have love, this serves no purpose.
It is confirmed by another text in the Book of Exodus, the so-called “Covenant Code”, where it is said that one cannot adhere to the Covenant with the Lord and mistreat those who enjoy his protection. And who are those who enjoy his protection? The Bible says: the widow, the orphan and the stranger, the migrant, that is, the most lonely and defenceless people (cf. Ex 22:20-21). In responding to those Pharisees who question him, Jesus also tries to help them put their religiosity in order, to distinguish what truly matters from what is less important. Jesus says: “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Mt. 22:40). They are the most important, and the others depend on these two. And Jesus lived his life precisely in this way: preaching and practising what truly matters and is essential, namely, love. Love gives impulse and fruitfulness to life and to the journey of life: without love, both life and faith remain sterile.
What Jesus proposes in this Gospel passage is a wonderful ideal, which corresponds to our heart’s most authentic desire. Indeed, we were created to love and to be loved. God, who is Love, created us to make us participants in his life, to be loved by him and to love him, and with him, to love all other people. This is God’s “dream” for mankind. And to accomplish it we need his grace; we need to receive within us the capacity to love which comes from God himself. Jesus offers himself to us in the Eucharist for this very reason. In it we receive Jesus in the utmost expression of his love, when he offered himself to the Father for our salvation.
May the Blessed Virgin help us to welcome into our life the “great commandment” of love of God and neighbour. Indeed, if we have experienced it ever since we were children, we will never cease converting ourselves to it and putting it into practice in the various situations in which we find ourselves.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
At the heart of this Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Mk 12:28b-34), there is the commandment of love: love of God and love of neighbour. A scribe asks Jesus: “Which commandment is the first of all?” (v. 28). He responds by quoting the profession of faith with which every Israelite opens and closes his day, and begins with the words “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut 6:4). In this manner Israel safeguards its faith in the fundamental reality of its whole creed: only one Lord exists and that Lord is ‘ours’ in the sense that he is bound to us by an indissoluble pact; he loved us, loves us, and will love us for ever. It is from this source, this love of God, that the twofold commandment comes to us: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.... You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mk 12:30-31).
In choosing these two Words addressed by God to his people and by putting them together, Jesus taught once and for all that love for God and love for neighbour are inseparable; moreover, they sustain one another. Even if set in a sequence, they are two sides of a single coin: experienced together they are a believer’s strength! To love God is to live of him and for him, for what he is and for what he does. Our God is unmitigated giving; he is unlimited forgiveness; he is a relationship that promotes and fosters. Therefore, to love God means to invest our energies each day to be his assistants in the unmitigated service of our neighbour, in trying to forgive without limitations, and in cultivating relationships of communion and fraternity.
Mark the Evangelist does not bother to specify who the neighbour is, because a neighbour is a person whom I meet on the journey, in my days. It is not a matter of pre-selecting my neighbour: this is not Christian. I think my neighbour is the one I have chosen ahead of time: no, this is not Christian, it is pagan; but it is about having eyes to see and a heart to want what is good for him or her. If we practice seeing with Jesus’ gaze, we will always be listening and be close to those in need. Of course our neighbour’s needs require effective responses, but even beforehand they require sharing. With one look we can say that the hungry need not just a bowl of soup, but also a smile, to be listened to and also a prayer, perhaps said together. Today’s Gospel passage invites us all to be projected not only toward the needs of our poorest brothers and sisters, but above all to be attentive to their need for fraternal closeness, for a meaning to life, and for tenderness. This challenges our Christian communities: it means avoiding the risk of being communities that have many initiatives but few relationships; the risk of being community ‘service stations’ but with little company, in the full and Christian sense of this term.
God, who is love, created us to love and so that we can love others while remaining united with him. It would be misleading to claim to love our neighbour without loving God; and it would also be deceptive to claim to love God without loving our neighbour. The two dimensions of love, for God and for neighbour, in their unity characterize the disciple of Christ. May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome and bear witness in everyday life to this luminous lesson.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In today's Gospel (cf. Lk 12: 49-53 ) Jesus warns his disciples that now is the time to decide. His coming into the world, in fact, coincides with the time of making decisive choices: the option in favour of the Gospel cannot be postponed. And in order to better explain His message, He uses the image of fire that He himself came to bring upon Earth. He says: "I have come to bring fire upon the Earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!» (see para. 49). These words are meant to help the disciples abandon every attitude of laziness, apathy, indifference and closure so as to welcome the fire of God's love; that love which, as Saint Paul reminds us was poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5: 5). Because it is the Holy Spirit that helps us love God and love our neighbour; It is the Holy Spirit that we all have inside.
Jesus reveals to his friends, and to us, his most ardent desire: to bring the fire ground of His Father's love to Earth, which kindles life and by which we are saved. Jesus calls us to spread this fire in the world, thanks to which we will be recognized as his true disciples. The fire of love, kindled by Christ into the world through the Holy Spirit, is a limitless fire, is a universal fire. This has been seen since the early days of Christianity: the witness of the Gospel has spread like beneficial wildfire overcoming every division between individuals, groups, peoples and nations. The evangelical message burns all forms of particularism and keeps charity open to all, with a preference for the poorest and most excluded.
The adherence to the fire of love that Jesus brought to Earth embraces our entire existence and adoring God and a willingness to serve our neighbour. Worshiping God and being available to serve our neighbour. The first, adoring God means learning the prayer of adoration, which we often forget. That is why I invite everyone to discover the beauty of the prayer of adoration and to practice it often. And then the second, a willingness to serve our neighbour: I think with admiration of so many communities and groups of young people who, even during the summer, are dedicated to this service for the sick, the poor, and people with disabilities. To live according to the spirit of the Gospel, it is necessary that in the face of ever changing needs that are emerging in the world, that there be disciples of Christ who can respond with new charitable initiatives. And so, by adoring God and serving our neighbours – both together, loving God and serving our neighbour – the Gospel might truly manifest itself as the fire that saves, that changes the world starting from a change in each one of our hearts.
In this perspective, we can also understand the other statement of Jesus in today's passage, that at first glance might disconcert us: "Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I say to you, division "(Lk 12.51). He came to "separate with fire". Separate what? Good from evil, right from wrong. In this sense He came to "divide", put into crisis – but in a healthy way – the lives of His disciples, breaking the easy illusions of those who believe they can combine Christian life and worldliness, Christian life with compromises of all kinds, religious practices and attitudes against others. In other words, true religion with superstitious practices: how many people who say they are Christians go to sooth sayers or palm readers in order to have their future read! This is superstition, this is not of God. We are talking about not living as hypocrites, but of being willing to pay the price of consistent choices – this is the attitude that all of us should seek in life: consistent – pay the price to be consistent with the Gospel. Consistent with the Gospel. Because it is good to say that we are Christians, but above all we need to be Christians in concrete situations, witnessing to the Gospel which is essentially love for God and for our brothers and sisters.
May Mary Most Holy helps us to allow ourselves to allow our hearts to be purified by the fire brought by Jesus, and to spread it through our lives, decisive and courageous choices.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
In today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mt 22:34-40), a doctor of the Law asks Jesus “which is the great commandment” (v. 36), that is, the main commandment of all divine Law. Jesus simply answers: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (v. 37). And he immediately adds: “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (v. 39).
Jesus’ response takes up and joins two fundamental precepts, which God gave his people through Moses (cf. Dt 6:5; Lv 19:18). And so he overcomes the trap that has been laid for him in order “to test him” (Mt 22:35). His questioner, in fact, tries to draw him into the dispute between the experts of the Law regarding the hierarchy of prescriptions. But Jesus establishes two essential principles for believers of all times two essential foundations of our lives. The first is that moral and religious life cannot be reduced to an anxious and forced obedience. There are people who seek to fulfil the commandments in an anxious or forced way, and Jesus helps us understand that moral and religious life cannot be reduced to anxious or forced obedience, but must have love as its principle. The second foundation is that love must strive together and inseparably toward God and toward neighbour. This is one of the main innovations of Jesus' teaching and it helps us understand that what is not expressed in love of neighbour is not true love of God; and, likewise, what is not drawn from one’s relationship with God is not true love of neighbour.
Jesus concludes his response with these words: “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (v. 40). This means that all the precepts the Lord has given to his people must be related to the love of God and neighbour.
In fact, all the commandments serve to implement, to express that twofold indivisible love. Love for God is expressed above all in prayer, particularly in adoration. We neglect the adoration of God a great deal. We recite the prayer of thanksgiving, we plea to ask for something..., but we neglect worship. Worshipping God is precisely the heart of prayer. And love for neighbour, which is also called fraternal charity, consists of closeness, listening, sharing, caring for others. And so often we neglect to listen to others because it is boring or because it takes up our time, or we neglect to accompany them, to support them in their suffering, in their trials.... But we always find the time to gossip, always! We do not have time to console the afflicted, but so much time to gossip. Be careful!
The Apostle John writes: “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen ” (1 Jn 4:20). This is how we see the unity of these two commandments.
In today’s Gospel passage, once again, Jesus helps us go to the living and gushing source of Love. And this source is God himself, to be totally loved in a communion that nothing and no one can break. A communion that is a gift to be requested each day, but also a personal commitment not to let our lives become enslaved by the idols of the world. And the proof of our journey of conversion and holiness always consists in love of our neighbour. This is the test: if I say “I love God” and do not love my neighbour, it does not work. The verification that I love God is that I love my neighbour. As long as there is a brother or sister to whom we close our hearts, we will still be far from being disciples as Jesus asks us. But his divine mercy does not allow us to be discouraged, but rather calls us to begin anew each day to live the Gospel consistently.
May the intercession of Mary Most Holy open our hearts to welcome the “great commandment”, the twofold commandment of love, which sums up the whole law of God and on which our salvation depends.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In today’s liturgy, the Gospel presents a scribe who approaches Jesus and asks him: “Which commandment is the first of all?” (Mk 12:28). Jesus responds by citing Scripture and confirms that the first commandment is to love God; from this one then derives the second, as a natural consequence: to love one’s neighbour as oneself (cf. vv. 29-31). Hearing this response, the scribe not only recognises that he is right, but in doing so, in recognising that he is right, he repeats the same words Jesus had said: “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that…to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself is more than a whole burnt offering and sacrifices” (vv. 32-33).
But, we can ask ourselves, in giving his assent, why did that scribe feel the need to repeat Jesus’ same words? This repetition seems to be more surprising if we think that this is the Gospel of Mark, who has a very concise style. So, what could this repetition mean? This repetition is a teaching for all of us who are listening. For the Word of the Lord cannot be received as any other type of news. The Word of the Lord must be repeated, made one’s own, safeguarded. The monastic tradition, of the monks, uses an audacious but very concrete term. It goes thus: the Word of God must be “ruminated”. “To ruminate” the Word of God. We could say that it is so nutritious that it must be ruminated in every aspect of life: to involve, as Jesus says today, the entire heart, the entire soul, the entire mind, all of our strength (cf. v. 30). The Word of the Lord must resound, echo and re-echo within us. When there is this interior echo that repeats itself, it means that the Lord dwells in the heart. And he says to us, just as he did to that excellent scribe in the Gospel: “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (v. 34).
Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord is not so much looking for skilled Scripture commentators, as he is looking for docile hearts which, welcoming his Word, allow themselves to be changed inside. This is why it is so important to be familiar with the Gospel, to always have it at hand – even a pocket-size Gospel in our pockets, in our purses to read and reread, to be passionate about it. When we do this, Jesus, the Word of the Father, enters into our hearts, he becomes intimate with us and we bear fruit in Him. Let’s take for example today’s Gospel: it is not enough to read it and understand that we need to love God and our neighbour. It is necessary that this commandment, which is the “great commandment”, resound in us, that it be assimilated, that it become the voice of our conscience. This way, it does not remain a dead letter, in the drawer of the heart, because the Holy Spirit makes the seed of that Word germinate in us. And the Word of God works, it is always in motion, it is alive and effective (cf. Heb 4:12). So each one of us can become a living, different and original “translation”, not a repetition but a living, different and original “translation” of the one Word of love that God gives us. This is what we see in the lives of the Saints for example. None of them is the same as another, they are all different, but with the same Word of God.
Today, therefore, let us take the example of this scribe. Let us repeat Jesus’ words, making them resound in us: “To love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength and my neighbour as myself”. And let us ask ourselves: does this commandment truly orient my life? Does this commandment resonate in my daily life? It would be good this evening, before going to sleep, to make an examination of conscience on this Word, to see if we have loved the Lord today and if we have done a little good to those we happened to meet. May every encounter bring about a little bit of good, a little bit of love that comes from this Word. May the Virgin Mary, in whom the Word of God was made flesh, teach us to welcome the living word of the Gospel in our hearts.