What is not expressed in love of neighbour is not true love of God; and, likewise, what is not drawn from one's relationship with God is not true love of neighbor said Pope Francis in his homily today. My dear friends in Christ, today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus 22:20-26 reminds us not to mistreat the alien, the widow or the orphan rather show them love like God showed us. Saint Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians 1:5c-10 our second reading tells us be imitators of Christ and the apostles by loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. In today’s gospel reading from the gospel of Saint Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus in his answer to the scholar of the law who tested him, summarizes the Ten Commandments by stating that the greatest and the first commandment is the love of God which is emphasized in the first three commandments and the second is the love of your neighbor which is emphasized in the last seven commandments. This Love as explained by Christ is not just any kind of emotion or feeling or sentiment but a love centered on Self-giving, Sacrifice and Total Commitment since these are the three essential elements of true love.

Self-giving means disregarding our own advantages and welfare over those of others. Our salvation story is an act of self-giving. The selflessness of God making us in His own image and likeness, the act of the Father in giving His only begotten Son for our redemption and salvation, the act of God the Son coming into our world, taking our human form, suffering and dying for us, the act of God the Holy Spirit in dwelling in us to counsel, comfort, illumine and enlightened us. This same act of self-giving and selflessness was shown us by the apostles and disciples of Christ who gave their all and even their lives for the spread of the gospel. Are we selfless in proclaiming and living out the gospel or are we selfish by making it all about ourselves and not about God whom we are called to preach? Sacrifice means to suffer loss of, give up, or renounce something for an ideal, belief, or end. God sacrificed all for our salvation and redemption and continues to bless, protect, guide and assist us. As disciples and followers of Christ what have we sacrificed for God in gratitude for our salvation and redemption? What have we sacrificed to let the word of God be heard in our world today?

Total Commitment is a state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled which God has shown us and continues to show us to help us stay committed to and focused on Him as we answer our call to discipleship.

My dear brothers and sisters, since Love is the greatest and first commandment, let us strive to love God more today and show that love of God in our love for our neighbor through self-giving, sacrifice and total commitment. Amen!