Focolare Word of Life – July, 2013

 
For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:14)

For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:14)

This sentence was said by the Apostle Paul. It is brief, precise, explicit and truly wonderful.

It tells us that love of neighbor must be the foundation and constant inspiration of the Christian way of life.

For the Apostle, the fulfillment of the law consists of practicing this command. The Mosaic law, in fact, speaks of not committing adultery, not killing, not stealing, not coveting … And we know that those who love do not do these things. Those who love do not kill or steal, etc.

 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Those who love, however, do not merely avoid evil. They are open to others; they desire good and accomplish it; they give of themselves, going so far as to give their very lives for their neighbor.

For this reason, Paul writes that when we love our neighbor, we are not merely observing a single command, because “the whole law is summed up” in it.

For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If the whole of the law is summed up in love of neighbor, the other commandments must be seen as means to enlighten and guide us in finding the way to love others in the often complex situations of life. We must become aware of God’s purpose in giving us the other commandments, of God’s will as expressed in them. He wants us to be obedient, chaste, temperate in our passions, meek, merciful, poor, and so on, in order to fulfill the commandment of love better.

For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Here we might ask, “Why doesn’t the Apostle mention love of God?”

The fact is that love of God and love of neighbor are not in competition with one another. Indeed, our love of neighbor is an expression of our love of God.

Loving God means doing his will. And his will is that we love our neighbor.

 

For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

How can we put this word of life into practice? By loving our neighbor, truly loving our neighbor.

This means giving of ourselves without self-interest.

We are not loving if we use our neighbor to further our own interests, even spiritual ones like our own sanctification. We should be loving our neighbor, not ourselves.

We can be certain, however, that those who love in this way will reach holiness of life; they will be “perfect as the Father is perfect” because they will have done the best possible thing. Having understood the will of God and having put it into practice, they will have fulfilled the law.

And isn’t this love the only thing we will be examined on at the end of our lives?

Chiara Lubich


 

Each month a Scripture passage is offered as a guide and inspiration for daily living. This commentary, translated into 96 languages and dialects, reaches several million people worldwide through print, radio, television and the Internet. Ever since the Focolare’s beginnings, founder Chiara Lubich (1920–2008) wrote her commentaries each month. This one was originally published in June 1983.

This monthly leaflet is a supplement to Living City, the Focolare magazine (livingcitymagazine.com). Experiences of how people put the monthly sentence into practice can be read in Living City and in books published by New City Press (newcitypress.com).

For information and to subscribe to this leaflet or to the magazine, write to: Living City, 202 Comforter Blvd, Hyde Park, New York 12538; tel: 845-229-0496; e-mail: livingcity@livingcitymagazine.com. Visit focolare.org (international) or focolare.us (U.S.).

© 2013 by Living City of the Focolare Movement, Inc.

Read more on this topic:

– Chiara Lubich, The Art of Loving, New City Press, 2005.

– Chiara Lubich, Neighbors: Short Reflections on Loving the People Around Us, New City Press, 2012.

– Madeline Pecora Nugent and Julian Stead, O.S.B., Love-Ability: Becoming Lovable by Caring for Yourself and Others, New City Press, 2007.

Next month:

August 2013

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Lk 6:32)