There is a wonderful fable about an orphan girl who had no family and no one to love her. One day, feeling exceptionally sad and lonely, she was walking through a meadow when she noticed a small butterfly caught unmercifully in a thorn bush. The more the butterfly struggled to free itself, the deeper the thorns cut into its fragile body. The young orphan girl carefully released the butterfly from its captivity. Instead of flying away, the little butterfly changed into a beautiful “Good Fairy.” The young girl rubbed her eyes in disbelief. “For your wonderful kindness,” the Good Fairy said to the girl, “I will grant you any wish you would like.” The little girl thought for a moment, then replied, “I want to be happy!” The fairy said, “Very well,” and leaned toward her and whispered in her ear. Then the good fairy vanished.
As the little girl grew up, there was no one in the land as happy as she. Everyone asked her the secret of her happiness, but she would only smile and answer, “The secret of my happiness is that I listened to a Good Fairy when I was a little girl.”
When she was very old, and on her deathbed, the neighbors all gathered around her, afraid that her fabulous secret of happiness would die with her. “Tell us, please,” they begged. “Tell us what the Good Fairy said.” The lovely old woman smiled, and then replied sweetly, “She told me that everyone, no matter how secure they seemed, no matter how old or young, how rich or poor, HAD NEED OF ME.” [Van Ekeren, “The Secret of Happinnes,”]
We show the depth of our love for God in the depth of our love for one another — all those that have need of us. If our concern for those who need us is shallow, so too is our love for God. And it matters not how often we withdraw to Church and offer words of praise and thanks and love to God. Those words won’t mean a thing unless they are indicative of a change of heart toward our neighbor. I wonder do we really believe that?
All through the Gospels, Jesus is trying to help us understand that although there is pleasure in material things — many of the things that satisfy human appetites, nevertheless there is only one way in which we can be in touch with the ultimate Source of genuine joy, genuine happiness — and that is to open ourselves up to God’s Presence in our lives. “You must love the Lord your God!” Let’s stop right here and drink it in.
What are the implications of this commandment? How do we manifest our love for God? We communicate this to Him in the experience of prayer, of course. We position ourselves in God’s Presence and we give thanks that He is a loving God. We thank Him for the gift of life, for the things of life He has given us to possess and enjoy. We thank Him for telling us, through Jesus, that we are not abandoned on planet earth. That even now, He is Gracing the world and its people, moving us toward the blessed state of fulfillment we need and want. But we can say “Thank you Lord, thank you Lord” a thousand times. And we can say “I love you, Lord, I love you Lord” ten-thousand times and still not have understood the implications of the command to “Love the Lord your God.” The command to love God cannot be understood as long as we make the mistake of regarding the one that follows — “Love your neighbor as yourself” — as a separate command.
In today’s Gospel Lesson, Jesus is asked, “Which commandment of the law is greatest?” And He responds by quoting the Old Testament law of love: First, “You must love the Lord your God,” and second, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” But Jesus has taken us beyond an understanding of the law of love in any chronological way. According to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable.
We cannot say we love God in a Christian way if at the same time we have something against our brother or sister. Someone has written that human love can be compared to the sunshine which shines brightly on the trees of the forest. The trees sink into the earth and finally are dug up as coal. When the coal burns, it returns the light and heat that came from the sun. Like the trees which receive sunlight, the human heart receives the capacity to love from God. Then, in union with another heart, love burns, and returns again to God the love that came from Him. And I can think of no more beautiful definition of genuine happiness than that. In union with the heart of another, especially those who need us most, let us pray: Oh, Lord, “make us THAT happy.” Just as the sunshine and the trees and the heat and the light are inseparable, so too may our Love of God, and Love of neighbor be also.
PEACE AND BLESSINGS!
This information is in the bulletin, but printed here for your convenience:
Liturgical Music Corner, by our music director, Rebecca Brown
Oct. 26, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
On this Sunday, Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The scripture readings for this Sunday speak of God’s love for the poor and how we are to be imitators of the Lord, turning to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. Our hope is in Jesus, who teaches us how to love as He loved us. Let us strive to do this, as we pray together the songs for today’s 9am Mass:
Gathering Song: “Lord Whose Love in Humble Service” # 806
Psalm: “I Love You, Lord My Strength”
Preparation of the Gifts: “Set Your Heart on the Higher Gifts”
Communion: “The Cry of the Poor”—Refrain: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor, blessed be the Lord”
Next Sunday, November 2nd, is All Souls Day. We have a special hymn called Lux Aeterna Litany (Eternal light) in which the cantor chants the names of our loved ones who have died. If you would like your loved one remembered in the litany, please call the parish office with his or her name and it will be forwarded to Rebecca Brown, our choir director. Or you may call her directly at 707-795-1050.