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FRIDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

20th August 2021


THERE IS NO TRUE LOVE OF GOD WITHOUT LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR


Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22

Psalms 146

Matthew 22:34-40


The story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, - from the first reading - is a love story found in an unlikely place. How many of us have heard the all- too-common jokes made about in-laws— particularly mother-in-laws? And how many of us have ever found a loving-friend in our mother-in- law?


Ruth was married to one of Naomi’s sons. Years after Ruth’s husband died, along with Naomi’s husband and other son, Naomi encouraged her daughters-in-law to go back to their families in Moab. Orpah, one of Naomi’s daughters-in-law, left, but not Ruth—Ruth stayed, pledging her life to the now-destitute Naomi, saying “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people shall be my people, and your God will be my God.” Ruth 1:16-17


Ruth refused to let Naomi be completely alone, and went with her when she travelled to Bethlehem, helping her to survive as a lone woman in a patriarchal society, gathering food, and eventually having a son that gave Naomi a sense of family again.


This lovely story highlights the mutual love of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. It shows us the value of unconditional love. Ruth didn’t hesitate to give when Naomi was in need. This story sets the stage for more solemn words of the Gospel.


In the Gospel Jesus puts in a few words the sum and substance of all laws and prophets; it is nothing but love for God and love for others, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind....You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22: 37- 39


There are a million ways to relate to God and others, but scripture says if that relationship is not planted in selfless love, it’s not the right kind of love.


At the same time we cannot relate with one and neglect the other; love of God and love of neighbour cannot be separated. Bothe are inseparable. We cannot observe one and at the same time neglect the other. It is only an illusion if I think I can love God, while failing to love my brothers and sisters. Likewise, my charity to the needy is soulless if I do not acknowledge God as Father of all, and love him above all.


God must come first, but there is no true love of God without love of neighbour. We cannot really honour God if we dishonour another human being, no matter how different they are from us. Jesus powerfully brings together these two commandments from different parts of the Bible, and declares that the way to show our love for God passes through other people; like the way Ruth’s love for God passed through her love for her mother-in-law, Naomi.


May the Love of God for us, inspire us to love one another.

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