We are loved by a Compassionate God.
If we are open to God’s love, we ARE able to show God’s love
to all others in our universal human community.
Our memory and empathy challenge us to act.

Matthew 22:34-40 calls us to LOVE – to ponder the intertwining relationship between “love of God” and “love of neighbor”. We are to mirror God’s love that God may be known.

Leading parties in Jerusalem were struggling for power against Jesus. The Saducees, the priestly aristocratic governing class, had already been silenced by Jesus. Now the Pharisees, scholars who had great influence on the people, were plotting to trap Jesus.

A lawyer steps forward and asks Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment?”

No matter which of the 613 laws in the Torah Jesus noted, an argument would follow.

Instead Jesus answers:
The greatest is to love God with one’s whole heart, soul, and mind…. and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus sums up the law in one commandment and gives us a “how to” in the second.
The two commandments though not identical are inter-related. The second is not lesser but rather is like the first. BE LOVE as God loves. Love your neighbor!

Pope Francis reminds us in his latest Encyclical – “we must recognize the “universal human dignity” of persons, for we belong to the ‘universal human community’.” Pope Francis continues, “We must love everyone without exception.” This is difficult and the Pope agrees as he states, “It is hard to love the oppressor! But loving an oppressor means helping them to change and not allow them to continue in their demeaning oppression.” This is definitely a challenge as well.

Who is our neighbor? Our reading from Exodus gives examples. Our neighbors are aliens, people from outside our country, or they may be people in our lives with differing viewpoints; neighbors – widows left with children to feed, clothe, and educate both here and around the globe; neighbors – unemployed persons lacking funds for transportation or shelter.

Pope Francis again emphasizes…“loving our neighbor may require us to overcome prejudices, personal interests, historic, and cultural barriers. We are all co-responsible to create a society that is able to include, integrate, and lift up those who have fallen or are suffering. — Love builds bridges! We are made for love… made to recognize Christ in the face of every excluded person”.

If we are open to God’s love, we will work for changes to policies that oppress others. We might advocate for undocumented immigrants to secure a driver’s license, so that they do not fear driving to work or to school. We might petition government leaders to allow refugees entrance at our borders.

If we are open to God’s love, we will grow in understanding that power and control results in red-lining in our city, or that implicit bias denies people of color financial resources.

Maybe you saw a recent TV segment as I did. A house appraisal for a biracial family was given. Then the same house was appraised, but the photos and memorabilia belonging to the black resident were removed. The first appraisal was $120,000 less than the second. Implicit bias in action!

If we are open to God’s love, cards, calls, and patience would abound for persons who cannot leave home, as well as for others who suffer from mental illness or chronic forgetfulness.

We are loved by a Compassionate God.
Our memory and empathy challenge us to act.
If we are open to God’s love, we ARE able to show God’s love
to all others in our universal human community.

Today Jesus in a few short words tells us
that Love IS the foundation of God’s reign.

God’s love knows no limits or boundaries!
Love through our actions can reveal God’s compassion.

May each of us live our faith
in a way that makes love known.


Sister Joyce Ann Hertzig, OP preached this message in Dominican Chapel at Marywood on October 25, 2020.