October 29, 2017 — Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel Reading from St. Matthew, a lawyer among the Pharisees again tries to entrap Jesus by asking Him the question, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest.” Jesus’ response appears multiple times in Holy Scripture, as He says, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The Lord then adds another that He cites as almost equally important, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Much has been written and conjectured about both of these, and often the focus is on who our neighbor is. However, there is another element of the second Great Commandment that is worthy of note, and that is loving the neighbor “as yourself.” Too often people conclude that this means that you have to love yourself first.
Most of us grasp what it means to the love the Lord with all we are, although it is nearly unattainable to accomplish. However, that second Great Commandment does not mean that it is necessary for us to love ourselves before we can love anyone else. It means, quite simply, that most of us are concerned with our own interests and our own personal situations. Jesus is telling us that just as we often think of ourselves, we need to take care and have concern for the interests of others as well.
In the familiar Prayer of St. Francis known to many Catholics, we sum up what this kind of love to which we are called really is, when we pray, “Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved, as to love.”