A special thank you this week to our friends at the Knights of Columbus St. Mary of Vernon Parish, Vernon Hills; and St. Bartholomew Parish Catholic Women’s St. Giles Parish, Oak Park in the congregation.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wow, we might say to ourselves, wow, there’s so much to this faith that we live and share. There’s the sacraments, the novenas, all the different prayers, holy days, and fasting days, understanding our creed. Our Catholic faith is based on tradition over 2,000 years. Have you ever felt, however, at times, wow, there’s so much, and it’s complicated? Well, if you’ve ever felt that way, you’re not alone.

At the time of Jesus, the Pharisees felt that their faith was complicated. It was based on 600, plus different laws, and so the Jewish people, including Jesus, would strive to live out and obey them all, and when Jesus is asked in the Gospel today, which Commandment is the greatest, it was a tricky question meant to trap Him. They were hoping that He would say something out of line with the religious leaders of his time, but Jesus answers right to the point, “Love God and love your neighbor as self.”

Today, we live in such a complicated world. There’s so much fear and mistrust, and there’s even hatred of other people, especially those we don’t know, and people and cultures that we don’t understand. It’s good for us to remember these four simple letters: L-O-V-E, love, because love is truly at the center of who God is. Jesus is clear in the Gospel. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments: love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus wanted the Pharisees to understand this, and he reminds us of this as well today.

If we do anything for any other reason than love, we fall short of living the God-centered lives that God wants from us, and so today I’d ask you to think about this: is there some place where you might be challenged, in your mind or in your heart, to put God, to put love, before all else?