Tag Archive for: commandments

It is all the same mystery.

The Irish Dominicans are always fond of recalling memories of past brethren. One particular memory is that of our brother William Barden, Archbishop of Isfahan of the Latins. Archbishop William was noted for his intense spiritual life and his deep insights into the Christian mystery. One day, just before the community processed out for Christmas Mass, one of the brethren on noticing a lady praying the stations of the Cross said how ridiculous it was. Fr. Barden, as he then was, said gently “ Leave her, it is all the same mystery.”

Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel tells the Pharisees that all the teachings of the Prophets and the whole Law can be summed up in two great commandments of love: Love of God being the greatest and first and Love of neighbour being the second. Love of God is the foundation for love of others. St. Augustine said love of neighbour is sure proof of love of God. One could not love authentically without first loving God. What seems like two commandments are really one great commandment to love. In the end Archbishop William is right, it is all the same mystery, the mystery of Love.

 If it is the same mystery we should disregard the temptation at times to see God and our neighbour at opposite ends. Perhaps there are times when we feel we have to forgo the delights of prayer or time with God in order to help someone, we may feel disgruntled to be called away from our solitude with the Lord. However, this can be a false dichotomy because if we get up and go to help our neighbour we are in fact choosing God as well. We recall our Lord’s words “ You did it to me.” Our love and service to others is really love and service of God. Thus, we cannot love God with all our hearts and minds and souls without loving each other. It is all the same mystery of love.

 Gospel Reflection for the 30th  Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A (Matt 22: 34-40) IMG_0409_DxO

Thou shalt not not love

Moses commandmentsThere are many ways to come to know a society. How a society understands and presents itself to the world will be reflected in those things it values most. Various indicators reveal something of the forces that shape the way a society operates.


Imagine a diplomat from a distant country, sent to establish relations with an unknown territory. The Stock Exchange and the Government’s Budget figures might offer an economic perspective of that territory, highlighting its socio-economic landscape. The numbers of people emigrating to other parts of the world may tell a story as would its reception of those who arrive on its shores. The clothes people wear, their hairstyles and the music they listen to has the power to define whole generations. Even the statute books paint a picture of that conduct which a society deems incompatible with the common good.


Is it not the same with Jesus? He reveals God to man in many ways. Commandments are one such way of making God known to us. Talk of commandments inevitably brings with it allusions to obligation and conformity to rules. It is easy to see commandments as a list of prohibitions, limiting freedom, spontaneity and fun. ‘Thou shalt not’ resonates in every age. Jesus however, links keeping His commandments with love. There are undoubtedly things God commands us not to do but even then we ought to understand what it is that such prohibitions says about God. When we are commanded not to kill, not to commit adultery and not to steal, what is God communicating to us? Should it be seen as a restriction on our freedom to do these things or is it a lesson in authentic loving of others?


God’s charter of charity is much simpler that the reams of regulations accrued on the statute books of the state legislature over the centuries. It was given to Moses in Ten Commandments. Not only are the content of these directives ordered towards authentic love but their brevity too, according to G.K. Chesterton, should be understood in relation to God’s benevolence. He claims that “the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.”


Furthermore, if this were not simple enough, Jesus teaches that the whole of the Law and the Prophets hang on the twin precepts of love of God and love of neighbour (Matthew 22:37-40). Whether or not any new foreign diplomats will arrive on our shores to establish relations with us is uncertain but we can be sure to expect a return visit from our Lord. He says so in today’s Gospel. One wonders what He will make of our society. Will He want to establish relations with us when He sees the things we value?


Gospel Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter – Year A (John 14:15-21)