June 21: The Commandment of Love

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

Love is the desire of the human heart and its very life. The commandment to love both God and neighbor is the Divine Heart’s covenant of love.  You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:37.39).  “Such is the way commanded us by the Divine Master and highest Lawgiver,” writes St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, “and is also enjoined on us by the mind, enlightened by faith, which teaches us that we are all children of the one Father in heaven and at the same time are members of one great family and brothers among ourselves…Our love of neighbor is the measure of our love for God. There is a close connection between the two. They are like two streams flowing from one spring, like two flames from one fire, such that one cannot exist without the other. The love of neighbor is the characteristic of true Christians. It is the most beloved virtue of Christ. The Savior not only gave us this commandment, but by His life also taught us how to fulfill it.”

Jesus loves us with a most tender love, and this, the love of a father, brother, friend and spouse. He has loved us to the point of pouring Himself out for us.  He has endured for us all suffering, bitterness and the shame of the cross.  Jesus gave Himself completely to us.  He has loved us to the end.

In the Cenacle on the eve of His Passion, the Lord Jesus repeated the commandment of love for neighbor: I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you. (Jn 13:34). And how did He love us? Even before we were able to know Him and to respond to His love, He first loved us.  The Lord Jesus loved those who were unworthy of His love and who would often repay Him with ungratefulness. Jesus loves us with a most tender love, and this, the love of a father, brother, friend and spouse. He has loved us to the point of pouring Himself out for us.  He has endured for us all suffering, bitterness and the shame of the cross.  Jesus gave Himself completely to us.  He has loved us to the end.

Despite our human mistakes and ingratitude, the Lord Jesus does not break our friendship with Him.  In a like manner, we too must love our neighbor. St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar develops this thought using the canvas of St. Paul’s hymn on love.  Such a love should be pure, not self-interested; it must be persistent and extending to all, even our enemies. It is to be expressed in thought, heart, word and deed.  Thus, it avoids suspicion and rash judgments, does not exclude anyone but rather respects others because of God.  This love allows us to respect our neighbor as a creature of God and to see in him the image of the Creator.  We further see in him a child of the Heavenly Father, a temple of the Holy Trinity and above all a brother and friend of Christ. True love for neighbor avoids hatred and the desire for revenge; it repels any aversion and duplicity.  Moreover, it forgives injury and is undeterred by unkind words; it guards against antipathy or our acting upon the caprices of the heart.  The spirit of faith and Christian charity governs true love. The person nurturing within himself the love of neighbor, guards against hardness of heart and envy; he wishes others well and rejoices in their happiness. He avoids slander, so common and damaging a fault. The speech of love is true yet delicate; kind but without hypocrisy; sweet yet without flattery; finally it is meek and gracious but without exaggeration. The one who loves neither hurts his neighbor nor consciously and willfully causes him any pain, rather he works zealously for his benefit and salvation.

As I Kneel Before You – Sung by our Sisters

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