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A Sunday Reflection By Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ

A Sunday Reflection By Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ

THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENT

How can loving be a commandment? Surely you either love someone or you don't.Yet Jesus called it a commandment, the greatest of all the commandments: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." But after saying that Jesus added the second commandment, "You must love your neighbour as yourself." By joining these two commandments together, Jesus was clarifying what it means to love God: the best way any of us can express our love of God is by loving our neighbour.

But for most of us it seems a bit strange that love could be a commandment which you decide to obey or not. I think that is because most love songs or love stories don't really reach the full meaning of the word. I found a better description of love in that beautiful novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres: "Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away."

When someone decides to get married, they may have experienced a beautiful feeling of falling in love, but to put their whole life on the line and give it to someone else needs a real decision. It is even more clearly so if you want to follow the command of loving your neighbour, as that may involve loving someone whom you do not know or perhaps do not even like. Liking and loving are not the same thing. Real loving is more than a feeling –it is a decision. 

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