“Jesus said: ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.'” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Love never spectates, it always participates.
As a young teenage girl, Saint Therese learned about a horrible serial murderer set to be executed, Henri Pranzini, who adamantly refused to repent of his crimes. Love moved Therese to help save the hardened criminal from the fires of hell and so spare Jesus the pain of losing one for whom Jesus Himself had suffered on the cross. She begged God to move Pranzini to repent and also did acts of penance for this intention.
The newspaper report described the murderer taking a crucifix from the hands of a Catholic priest and kissed the wounds of Jesus three times as he awaited execution. Therese had an answer to her prayers. Love participates.
Love moves from watching to doing; from thinking to acting, from dreaming to making happen. Love is active, not passive. Love gets involved. Love stays involved.
- Because God is Love, God moves first. God moves to create us and then stays involved in our lives.
It is their first having been loved by God that is behind God telling the Israelites in the First Reading that they must treat others kindly and justly (Exodus 22:20-26). They themselves had been slaves and aliens and terribly oppressed and God got involved in their plight – God inserted Himself into their struggles and dramatically rescued them from their foes.
- Of course, that story anticipates the suffering and redemptive love of God in Christ Jesus poured out for us and for our salvation.
God’s first loving us enables us to love Him and our neighbor.
Therese hadn’t been told to pray for the conversion of Pranzini and the salvation of his soul. It wasn’t a school assignment or Confirmation project. Love moved her to act. Divine love awakened Therese to get involved.
In the same way love must stir us to get involved.