Loving God and loving our neighbor isn't all that easy.

Sunday, 8/21/11

In the Gospel Jesus gave authority over his Church to Peter, and as Catholics we feel obliged to honor that authority as it is exercised by Peter’s successor Pope Benedict XVI.

I try never to repeat a homily, but two days ago I had one that fit in with our obligations to recognize authority. And, since I am inflicting this homily on a different congregation, I am going to repeat myself. In Friday’s Gospel Jesus told us that the only commandments we needed to keep were the ones that told us to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and to love our neighbor as ourself.

When we are fed up with all the rules and regulations that the Church pitches at us, it is refreshing to hear Jesus saying all that is needed is that we love God and our neighbor.

But hold on there! Loving God with heart, soul, and mind obliges us to do more than mutter sweet words like the ones we find on Valentines.

It also obliges us to keep the Commandments. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” More than that, it obliges us to obey all lawful authority. As Paul told us in Roman’s Thirteen, “There is no authority except from God. Whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed.”

And, loving your neighbor as yourself extends to loving the unlovable, to loving people whom you naturally dislike; to loving them with that kind of empathy that has you sneaking inside their ugly skins, experiencing what it is like to be them.

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