October 26, 2014 click on left end of black bar to play-pause
October 26, 2014
Fr. George Smiga
When Jesus is asked in today’s gospel, “What is the greatest commandment?,” he gives two commandments. Both are drawn from the Jewish Torah: from Deuteronomy “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and from Leviticus, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” By placing these two commands together, Jesus is telling us that we love God by loving our neighbor.
But, how do we love our neighbor? What does love mean in this command? Jesus is not talking about some kind of romantic love. We do not have to be fond of our neighbor, or even like our neighbor. Our task is to give to our neighbor what our neighbor needs. Examples of this are feeding the poor, or visiting the imprisoned. But, what if our neighbor needs something that we cannot give? This brings us to today’s celebration of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. There are here among us today those who are sick: dealing with cancer, heart disease, decreased mobility, or dealing with the weakness that comes with growing older. How do we love them? We cannot give them their heath. We cannot make them young. But we can pray for them and with them.
In a few minutes as those who receive the sacrament will come forward. We will surround them with our prayers. We will support them with our faith as we sing together. We cannot cure their disease, but we can pray to God who can. We cannot take away their pain, but we can stand with them in their pain. We can pray to the God who saves us. This gives hope. This strengthens faith. This tells others that they are not alone. Such support is no small thing. It is following the great command of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves.