Though we fall in our weakness, he is always ready to forgive and to give us the graces we need to learn through our suffering, and to strengthen us on the difficult path toward greater love.
“Love is the fulfillment of the law.” This is the heart of the scriptures and in many ways, all else is commentary. Love is the infinite, ever-living force within the Father’s creative actions from the beginning to the present. It is the dynamism that became flesh in Jesus, that took on our suffering, that offered itself up to death on the cross, and that burst forth like the new dawn on the day of the resurrection. And it is the power of the Holy Spirit within us in all that we do in Jesus’ name. And love is the mission that we have been called to live out as Christians in the world.
In the Gospels we learn of the Two Great Commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind: and Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) The first love we are called to, then, is the love of God. It is God’s love for us that is the source of all of his generous gifts to us. It is that love that is the origin of our infinite dignity as human beings. It is through God’s love that we are given the graces we need to grow in faith, in hope, and in love. What other response would be proper on our part than to love him in return with all of our being?
It would follow, then, that our natural response to being unconditionally loved by God would be to love our neighbors as ourselves. When we love God with our whole being, we can not help but be moved to love all others, for we will begin to see that they, too, are made in the image and likeness of God. We will see also that they share our great need for his mercy and forgiveness. When we learn to love others as ourselves we begin to willingly take on the duties of love that we have been called to as Christians. No longer will our moral decisions and behaviors be subject to the law, for we will not be tempted to commit adultery, or to kill, or to steal, or to covet because, “Love does no harm to its neighbor.” When we are able to have this kind of love for God and neighbor, we become “the fulfillment of the law.”
We understand this with our intellects, but we also know that we often fall short of living out this commandment of love. We have our weaknesses. We are easily turned aside by fears or angers. But God’s love remains with us at all times, for God’s love is everlasting. He is patient with us, slow to anger, and always full of kindness. Though we fall in our weakness, he is always ready to forgive and to give us the graces we need to learn through our suffering, and to strengthen us on the difficult path toward greater love. Jesus’ suffering, and his death on the cross, showed us the depth of God’s love for us. Jesus commanded us to love in the same way he did, for the sake of others, and for our own sake. Love, then, is truly the “fulfillment of the law.” It is the fullest meaning of life. Without love there can be no forgiveness and, therefore, no peace, and no justice.
Lord, we believe that you are love. Help us to humbly and willingly open our hearts to you. Fill up our hearts with your loving grace until they overflow with an abiding love for you and for our neighbors. Strengthen us to become the “fulfillment of the law.” Make of us instruments of your living love in the world today. We ask these great things in the power of your most holy name, Jesus. Amen!
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