Gospel: Mt 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. One of them, a lawyer, questioned him to test him, “Teacher, which commandment of the law is the greatest?”
Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the most important of the commandments. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets are founded on these two commandments.”
Jesus’ response to the lawyer’s question ordered the commandment to love God and to love the neighbor as two sides of the same coin. They are inseparable. It is not possible to love God without loving the neighbor. Love, therefore is the foundation of the Christian life. It is the heart, the core of all the commandments. Saint John in his epistle tells us that “God is love and he who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.” The more we love, the more we become like God. When we love truly, unconditionally and unceasingly, the image of God in us increasingly becomes clear.
Ruth in the First Reading, exemplifies the kind of love we are expected to show our fellow human beings. Love of neighbor will validate and complete, as it were, our love for God. What makes her story remarkably interesting and extraordinary is the fact that genuine love and care can come from the most unexpected persons. Ruth was a pagan and after the death of her husband who was unable to give her an offspring, had all the right to leave her mother-in-law’s house and perhaps marry again. But love gave her the power to rise above the typical animosity between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. She readily abandoned her own people and her god so that she can be with Naomi, her mother-in-law, and worship the One True God.