Love God, Love People

Matthew 22:34-38 (NIV)
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The word salvation means wholeness, and this is what we are to seek for in our love of God, neighbor, and self. - Steve Harper, Finding the Bridge

Let everyone understand that real love of God does not consist in tear-shedding, nor in that sweetness and tenderness for which usually we long, just because they console us, but in serving God in justice, fortitude of the soul and humility. -Teresa of Avila

In an age when the word “love”is greatly abused, it is important to remember that the primary component of biblical love is not affection but commitment. Warm feelings of gratitude may fill our consciousness as we consider all that God has done for us,  but it is not warm feelings that Deut. 6:5 demands of us but rather stubborn, unwavering commitment. Similarly, to love our neighbor, including our enemies, does not mean that we must feel affection for them. To love the neighbor is to imitate God by taking their needs seriously. - Douglas Hare

You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people.
You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.
- Cornel West

When we skip over the Great Commandment on the way to fulfilling
the Great Commission, we do great harm to the authenticity of the faith.
- Robert Lupton

Alas. It is so easy to talk, and so hard to do. It is easy to love people in theory.
- Dorothy Day

We can almost hear Jesus saying to the scholar (Mark 12:28-34) what he said to the wealthy man who had kept all the commandments from his youth: “you lack one thing.” (Mark 10:17-31) They both lacked investment. The two commandments are not only meant to attract attention, they are meant to engage the will. They are not only meant to lead to insight, but also to involvement. As long as we view the commandments as “commandments,” we’ll be on the border—almost, but not quite, in the Kingdom. Entrance into the Kingdom occurs when what we know becomes how we live. - Steve Harper, The Holy Gospel:  November 4, 2012 (Year B)

The closer you come to God as you ascend the slopes of contemplation, the greater grows your craving to love human beings on the level of action. The perfection of men and women on earth consists in the integration, vital and authentic, of our love for God and our love for human beings. - Carlo Carretto, In Search of the Beyond

The grace of God that saves us is also God’s gift to the world. And so we move from personal holiness to social holiness, from profession of faith to the world that is our parish, from a life of discipleship to the transformation of our neighborhoods, where people are hungry and hurting, homeless and hopeless. Being a part of God’s mission in the world is not an option. It is the great commandment and the great commission of Jesus.- Bishop Ken Carter

Having our backs turned to the world is the church’s most practiced posture.
- Bishop Peter Storey

To love your neighbor
is to welcome them
into the home of your heart
where God is.
- Steve Garnaas- Holmes, Heaven Grows Around You

God wants all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. It is this unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care for our neighbor, not as an activity which distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love for God who reveals himself to us as the God of all people. It is in God that we find our neighbors and discover our responsibility to them. We might even say that only in God does our neighbor become a neighbor rather than an infringement upon our autonomy, and that only in and through God does sevices become possible.
- Henri Nouwen, The Living Reminder

Love God and you will be humble;
Love God and you will throw off the love of self;
Love God and you will love all that He gives you to love for love of Him.
-Francois Fenelon

In the following story, Francis de Sales is “speaking”,
but the story was most likely written by Jean Pierre Camus

I once asked the Bishop of Geneva what one must do to attain perfection.

“You must love god with all your heart,” he answered, “and your neighbor as yourself.”

“I did not ask wherein perfection lies,” I rejoined, “but how to attain it.”

“Charity,” he said again, “that is both the means and the end, th only way by which we can reach that perfection which is, after all, but charity itself …. Just as the soul is the life of the body, so charity is the life of the soul.”

“I know all that,” I said. “But I want to know how one is to love God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbor as oneself.”

But again he answered, “We must love God with all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves.”

“I am no further than I was,” I replied. “Tell me how to acquire such love.”

“The best way, the shortest and easiest way of loving God with all one’s heart is to love him wholly and heartily!”

He would give no other answer. At last, however, the Bishop said, “There are many besides you who want me to tell them of methods and systems and secret ways of becoming perfect, and I can only tell them that the sole secret is a hearty love of God, and the only way of attaining that love is by loving. You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves. If you want to love God, go on loving Him more and more. Begin as a mere apprentice, and the very power of love will lead you on to become a master in the art. Those who have made most progress will continually press on, never believing themselves to have reached their end; for charity should go on increasing until we draw our last breath.”

********

For more quotes on loving others, click here

I am indebted to Suzanne Guthrie and her excellent blog, The Edge of the Enclosure, for most of this blog post. Consider subscribing to her weekly offerings on a reading from the Gospels. – Lisa <><

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