Always and Everywhere
(Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40)
Years ago, I attended a wedding where the couple composed their own vows. The groom began with the promise to respect and support his wife, in good times and bad, etc., and concluded with the words, “As long as we both shall love.”
He seemed not to realize that he had just implied that a time might come when they no longer loved each other! True love admits of no such possibility. It is ‘always’ and ‘everywhere.’ And true love is what Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel.
Our Lady’s true and boundless love of God and neighbor is expressed at La Salette in the words, ‘my Son’ and ‘my people.” We find it in her gentle tone, her tears, her closeness to the children.
When she reminded Maximin of his visit to a farm at Coin, she showed how God’s love surrounds us at all times, in every place. She wants us to be imitators of her, responding to God’s love always and everywhere.
When in Luke’s Gospel Mary said to the angel, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word,” she didn’t mean just here and now, but everywhere and always. The same is true of her song, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. The Almighty has done great things for me.”
We might wonder what it means to love ‘with all our mind.’ We might think that there is little difference between loving with all our heart and all our soul; or we could try to explore each term for subtle changes of meaning. But this is no academic exercise. The meaning is clear: true love of God and neighbor is, by its very nature, ‘always’ and ‘everywhere.’
Examples abound among the saints. St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, wrote a beautiful Act of Love that begins: “I love you, O my God, and my one desire is to love you until my dying breath.” He truly lived that prayer, personally and in his ministry to others.
Why God should want our love is a mystery. Yet it is so important, that he made it the greatest of all the commandments. He doesn’t need it; we do. And since it is only through his goodness that we have anything to offer him, he makes it possible.
Yes, we really can love God always, everywhere, truly.