The Readings for the Memorial of St Vincent de Paul
Thursday ihthe 25th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)
“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets’” (Matthew 22:34-40).
And there’s this citation from St Thomas Aquinas’ commentary on the passage:
When man is loved, God is loved, since man is the image of God.
So what is love?
St Thomas has us there, as well: To love is to will the good of another.
Good, also: is very well defined. God is good. God is the ultimate good. Yes, charity and acts of service are important, but God is the final and and goal of all being: if you’re not willing someone else to God-wards, you are not acting in love.
As Fr Z points out, “All of the Law is summed up in Jesus’ two-fold command of love of God and neighbor. The first part of the two-fold law is about unconditional love of God. The second follows as its consequence. We must cultivate our different loves in their proper order. God comes first, always. Always.”
We have it in our mushy liberal hearts that “love” has something to do with “don’t judge me”. We have set up the idea that God wants us to open the doors and let everyone in, like a 24/7 Denny’s. Love is not a “second hand emotion” but rather the driving force that created the universe. It sends us to hell and back in service to another person. It will not settle for second best. It weeps over the addict anddraws her away from her addiction. It can be gentle, nearly passive; or love can be tough to the point of self-destruction in the name of rescuing another.
We cannot love another by simply saying, “Do what ever makes you happy”. For our end and ultimate Good is God. And to walk away from God in any way is not to be acting to one’s own Good.
But how do you will the good of another and yet woo them? How do you notcondemn and yet not condone? How do you call someone Godward without pushing them away?