UNDERSTANDING THE TWO SIDES OF LOVE HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

How do you feel when someone says, “I love you,” and you can tell that the statement is from the person’s heart? Elated and appreciated, I guess. Love is immensely powerful and overwhelming. The best story ever is the love story. Furthermore, St. Paul tells us that it is the foundation of everything (1Cor.13:7).

Lately, I reflected on why we use heart shape as an image to represent the phenomenon of love, and I made some amazing discoveries that I would love to share. The heart’s anatomical function shows that the human heart is divided into two sides: the left and the right. The left pumps oxygenated blood to the entire body while the right eliminates deoxygenated blood and other wastes like carbon dioxide.

We should remember that the two sides must work in unison for the individual to survive. Heart failure occurs when one side malfunctions like in the pumping of blood, which could cause death. We could take away from this analysis that one side of the heart is not enough; the two sides must be dynamically operational for anyone to live.

The Gospel Reading today (Matt.22:34-40) tells us about the answer our Lord Jesus gives to a man that doubles as a Pharisee and lawyer who wanted to know the greatest commandment in the law. Answering, Jesus said:

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

Scripture study helps us understand that our Lord Jesus connected two Old Testament passages to answer the question. Deuteronomy (6:5) takes care of the first part, while Leviticus (19:18) takes care of the second part. However, the amazing and instructive fact is how Jesus made them one and two commandments simultaneously. Furthermore, in the Gospel of John (13:34), Jesus makes love a new commandment when he said to his disciples, “I give you a new commandment that you love one another as I loved you.”

The first part commands that we love the Lord we all our heart, soul, and mind. Among these three, only the heart that gives us the image of love is tangible. Furthermore, our analysis of the human heart shows that two sides look alike and work together. Here see the heart’s left and right side adequately representing love ♥: the first is like the second!

How do you combine the Love of God and Neighbor?

I once asked people in the Church to choose between loving God and their neighbors. You could guess that God got the highest vote. But many in the congregation were surprised when I referred to the First Letter of John (4:20) that says:

If anyone says, I love God, but hates his brother; he is a liar for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

The idea is that love should start from the seen and move over to the unseen. Your neighbor is a tangible representation of God because he or she is created in the image and likeness of God. That explains why in the First Reading (Exodus 22:21-27), God asked the people to show love and affection to strangers and the less fortunate like orphans and widows. The description of the last judgment by our Lord Jesus shows that we shall be examined by whatsoever we did or failed to do for our neighbors (Matthew 25:34-46).

Moving Forward with the Two Sides of Love  

As the heart beats continuously, we need to allow love to beat in everything we do. Love should not be a thought or a word but the selfless action we accomplish for others and to God, by extension, following the two sides of love’s dynamism.

One of the misrepresentations we give love is that we see it as a transaction. Most people are heartbroken today because they loved with the high hope of being loved back. Sorry, true love is sacrificial, not beneficial. St. Paul tells us that love does not seek its interest (1 Cor. 13:5).

On the other hand, some people fail to love because they do not see anything to gain by loving; that is another error. A famous singer’s lyrics say that love does not ask why it does not think twice, but it speaks from the heart. Let our hearts radiate love, especially at this dark moment in our human history.

Only love can win all our battles in our lives. Let us give love a chance now. I love you, and may God who loves you more bless you!

Fr. Bonnie.  

                                        

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