PASSION FOR GOD AND COMPASSION FOR HUMAN BEINGS
When they forget what’s essential, it’s easy for religions to go deeply through paths of pious mediocrity or moral gymnastics that not only incapacitate a healthy relationship with God but can gravely damage the person. No religion escapes this danger.
The scene that is narrated in the Gospels has as background a religious atmosphere in which priests and teachers of the law classify hundreds of precepts of the divine Law into «easy» and «difficult», «serious» and «light», «small» and «great». It’s almost impossible to move about with a healthy heart in this network.
The question they put to Jesus seeks to recover what’s essential, to discover the «lost spirit»: what is the first commandment? what is essential? where is the nucleus of everything? Jesus’ answer, like that of Hillel and other Jewish teachers, gathers the basic faith of Israel: «You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your being». «You shall love your neighbor as yourself».
Let no one think that when you talk about loving God, you’re talking about emotions or feelings toward an imaginary Being, nor about invitations to prayers and devotions. «To love God with all your heart» is to humbly recognize the ultimate Mystery of life, to confidently orient one’s existence in agreement with God’s will: to love God as Father, who is good and who loves us well.
All this decisively marks one’s life, since it means praising existence from its root; taking part in life with gratitude; opting always for what’s good and what’s beautiful; living with a heart of flesh and not of stone; resisting everything that betrays God’s will by denying the life and dignity of God’s sons and daughters.
That’s why the love for God is inseparable from the love for our brothers and sisters. Thus Jesus remembers it: «Love your neighbor as yourself». Real love for God is not possible without listening to the sufferings of God’s sons and daughters. What would religion be if the hunger of the
malnourished or the excess of those who are full doesn’t put a question or raise concern of any kind to believers? They aren’t off track who sum up Jesus’ religion as «passion for God and compassion for humanity».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf