The greatest commandments are: Love God and Love your neighbor; but how often do we unintentionally try to separate these two commandments so that we don’t need to actually care about our neighbors—and by neighbors, I mean everyone we encounter, even those we don’t like very much? How often do we proclaim, “I am a Christian, and I love the Lord God!”, but turn our backs on those most in need of our love, because we just don’t have the time, or we just don’t feel like it? When was the last time we looked into the eyes of a stranger and cared about their story, their well-being, or even just truly saw them as lovable and even loved?
To say we love God means we should also make room in our hearts, minds, and souls, for that which God has created. Love for God is revealed in the love we show other people. To love others—not just those we are comfortable with – is to acknowledge their existence and to see the face of God in their faces. The first reading is clear, those who are without—in whatever way– are under God’s protection. God shields those most in need of protection from the darkness—those without a home, the lost, the widow or widower, the orphan, the poor, the displaced—and God invites us to do the same to everyone we meet, especially those who are vulnerable. Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself: if we see ourselves as loved and lovable, combining these two commandments might be so much easier, and we can fulfill these commandments with everyday acts of love, kindness, and compassion. Yes, we are lovable; we are loved; and we are loving, so let’s live the teachings of the Gospel.