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LOVE OF GOD AND LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Rom. 13:8-10 & Lk. 14:25-33

The focus of today's first reading is love of our neighbour and the second concerns love of God. Saint Paul says, "Love is the one thing that cannot hurt our neighbour." The main obstacle to loving our neighbour is selfishness.

If someone thinks only of feathering his or her own nest, they are sure to clash with others who are concentrating on feathering theirs. But if we forget ourselves and have thoughts about others, and how to care for them and trying not to hurt them, then every moment in life becomes a challenge and it should make us happy. That is a very important lesson which we should learn at a very early age - but it is never too late to learn it.

But even more important than loving our neighbour is loving God. Jesus in very strong language says, "In the whole matter of love, I must come first. Nothing must come between you and Me, not your father, not your mother, not another person or anything, not even your own life. The reason is that I am God and without Me you can do nothing. You cannot even take your next breath or say your next word without Me. Put Me first. Next, love your neighbour as I have loved you. Last of all love yourself."

Think of that simple word JOY in which
J stands for Jesus
O for others
Y for yourself!

If we jumble up the order of the letters our lives will be disordered. If we keep the letters in the right order then we will be joyful people.

Our Lord concludes today's Gospel by telling us that discipleship is neither cheap nor easy. He tells us that in a building project there is a need to calculate the costs and estimate the resources needed. That sounds like a feasibility study to me! If there is not this careful preparation the project will not succeed.

Jesus gives another example. War is tough and being beaten is a likely prospect if we do not carefully prepare our tactics. So it is, too, with our discipleship. In our efforts to grow holy, some ‘battles’ will be won easily; others will need to be avoided completely. So let's not be beaten by foolishly overestimating our capacities. This happens especially when we fail to avoid the occasions of sin, thinking ourselves strong enough to handle them. At times, the best battle strategy is not to fight, but to flee!

Lord Jesus, following You is not easy. You ask us to put everything in second place to You and pick up our cross every day. We will not be able to do this without Your grace because we are weak and frail. But we believe that You will give us the strength we need.

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