Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Memorial)
You have set aside the commandment of God. (Mark 7:9)
It was an easy trap to fall into. In their zeal for the faith, many of the scribes and Pharisees created layers and layers of traditions and practices that would set them apart from “the world.” Over time, these layers began to complicate and eclipse the true nature of the Law of Moses—to the point that some people were able to turn the Law on its head.
In contrast to the complexities these scribes and Pharisees introduced, Jesus focused on two simple, fundamental commandments: love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Every law and commandment of the Lord can be summed up by these two verses from the Torah.
But no matter how simple these commands are, they certainly aren’t easy. How can we love everyone all the time? There are times when we can barely tolerate members of our family, let alone the stranger next door or the co-worker who gets on our nerves. How can we avoid the temptation to introduce complexities and excuses so that we can free ourselves from the command to love?
By letting God’s own love teach us how to love.
It may not be easy, but it is simple. Jesus loves you. Not because you do the right things. (No one is perfect.) Not because you embrace every one of his teachings. (Everyone struggles with at least one commandment.) And not because you have shown yourself to be better than other people. (God’s rain falls on the just and unjust alike.) No, Jesus loves you because he looks into your heart and sees how “very good” it is (Genesis 1:31). He looks past the hurts, the resentments, and the unconfessed sin, and peers right into the center of who you are.
It’s right there, in the center, that Jesus sees the love he has placed in you. He sees your desire to please the Lord. He sees the goodness and purity that God created you with. And what he sees pierces his heart with love. With joy. With compassion. It’s this gaze that can melt our hearts and teach us to love as he does—simply, mercifully, and equally.
“‘My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God’ (Psalm 84:3). Jesus, teach me to love.”
1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
Psalm 84:3-5, 10-11
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"It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade." Mark 4: 31-32