“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus responded by giving a summary of the Ten Commandments: Love God above all things and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Jesus is showing us that the two cannot be separated and that how much we love our neighbor is a reflection of how much we love God.
In the time of the desert monks there was an abbot by the name of Moses who had a great reputation for holiness. Easter was approaching, so the monks met to see what they should do to prepare for it. They decided to fast the entire length of Holy Week. Having come to this decision, each monk went off to his cell to fast and pray.
However, about the middle of the week, two wandering monks came to visit the cell of Abbot Moses. Seeing that they were starving, he cooked a little vegetable stew for them. To make them feel at ease he took a little of it himself.
Meanwhile the other monks had seen the smoke rising from their abbot’s cell. It could mean only one thing—he had a lit a fire to cook some food. In other words, he had broken the solemn fast. They were shocked, and in the eyes of many of them, he fell from his pinnacle of holiness. In a group they went over to confront him.
Seeing judgement in their eyes, Abbot Moses asked, “What crime have I committed that makes you look at me like this?”
“You have broken the solemn fast,” they answered.
“So I have,” the abbot replied. “I have broken the commandment made by a group of men, but in sharing my food with these brothers of ours, I have kept the commandment of God that we should love one another.”
On hearing this, the monks grew silent, and went away humbled but wiser.
It is so easy to say we love God but fail in our love of neighbor. Rules and regulations are good to a certain point but, as St. Vincent de Paul said, “Charity is certainly greater than any rule.”
Pope Francis has repeatedly shown us by his actions that we are all called to be the living Gospel, that being, to put our love of God into practice by how well we tend to the needs of our neighbor.
We must always keep in mind the words of Jesus from the parable of the Judgement of the Nations. “Whatsoever you do to the least of by sisters and brothers you did to me.”
— Fr. Dennis, October 29, 2017