The law of love: love God and love Neighbour

Thursday 9 June 2022 Week 10 in Ordinary Time

1 Kings 18:41-46

Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go back, eat and drink; for I hear the sound of rain.’ While Ahab went back to eat and drink, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel and bowed down to the earth, putting his face between his knees. ‘Now go up,’ he told his servant ‘and look out to the sea.’ He went up and looked. ‘There is nothing at all’ he said. ‘Go back seven times’ Elijah said. The seventh time, the servant said, ‘Now there is a cloud, small as a man’s hand, rising from the sea.’ Elijah said, ‘Go and say to Ahab, “Harness the chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”’ And with that the sky grew dark with cloud and storm, and rain fell in torrents. Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel. The hand of the Lord was on Elijah and tucking up his cloak he ran in front of Ahab as far as the outskirts of Jezreel.

Psalm 64              To you our praise is due in Zion, O God.

Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.   ‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill, he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’


Yesterday’s Gospel text called our attention to live from the law of love – love God and love neighbour.  This same principle is behind the reading of today.  A life of virtue is a life in which your motivations are attuned to your actions.  How can I be a person of love, a disciple of love, if my anger is turned towards hatred of others.  Our anger needs to be turned towards the service of the Gospel.  Jesus himself was angry – we recall the occasion in the temple in which he turned over the tables and used his belt as a whip – his anger flared at the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees.  This Gospel goes further and counsels us towards reconciliation with one another before we come to God.  For how is it possible to love God if we don’t love our sister or brother? 

This virtue is highlighted even further in the story of Elijah and Ahab.  Israel was suffering a great drought.  No rain had fallen because of their faithlessness towards their God.  We heard yesterday about the foolishness of the prophets of Baal, who Ahab had favoured, whose gods were having a holiday, while they hobbled around waiting for them to come and burn their offering.  Elijah however, called on the God of Israel who responded immediately with a show of faithfulness, burning the holocaust despite it being watered three times.  Elijah is praised by God for his virtue, while Ahab and the prophets of Baal are mocked.

When our own lives are marked with such virtue it is because of the integrity in our relationship with God.  Let us love the Lord our God with all our hearts and minds, and our neighbour as ourselves.

Riflessione (italiano):

Il testo evangelico di ieri richiamava la nostra attenzione a vivere secondo la legge dell’amore: amare Dio e amare il prossimo.  Questo stesso principio è alla base della lettura di oggi.  Una vita di virtù è una vita in cui le motivazioni sono in sintonia con le azioni.  Come posso essere una persona d’amore, un discepolo dell’amore, se la mia rabbia è rivolta all’odio verso gli altri.  La nostra rabbia deve essere rivolta al servizio del Vangelo.  Gesù stesso era arrabbiato – ricordiamo l’occasione in cui nel tempio rovesciò i tavoli e usò la sua cintura come una frusta – la sua rabbia si accese contro l’ipocrisia degli scribi e dei farisei.  Questo Vangelo va oltre e ci consiglia di riconciliarci gli uni con gli altri prima di arrivare a Dio.  Infatti, come è possibile amare Dio se non si ama la propria sorella o il proprio fratello?

Questa virtù è ulteriormente evidenziata nella storia di Elia e Achab.  Israele stava soffrendo una grande siccità.  Non era caduta la pioggia a causa della loro infedeltà verso il loro Dio.  Ieri abbiamo sentito parlare della stoltezza dei profeti di Baal, che Achab aveva favorito, i cui dèi erano in vacanza, mentre loro si attardavano ad aspettare che venissero a bruciare le loro offerte.  Elia, invece, invocò il Dio di Israele che rispose immediatamente con una dimostrazione di fedeltà, bruciando l’olocausto nonostante fosse stato annaffiato tre volte.  Elia viene lodato da Dio per la sua virtù, mentre Achab e i profeti di Baal vengono derisi.

Quando la nostra vita è segnata da una tale virtù, è grazie all’integrità del nostro rapporto con Dio.  Amiamo il Signore nostro Dio con tutto il cuore e la mente e il nostro prossimo come noi stessi.