Love and Commandments~Br. Christian Ventura, Novice

Mt 5:17-37

In the ✠ Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


Being raised by a single parent for most of my childhood, I am no stranger to what we typically call “tough love”. As an adult, I try to stay away from using the controversial use of the words “tough love,” as parental relationships are complex and vary drastically in experiences for people. However, I do think there is some merit to the parental loving-kindness that comes from a sincere and tender heart that just wants the best for us.

Today’s excerpt from the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew frames a hopeful scene for Christ’s disciples, even if it is not immediately apparent. It may seem at first glance that Jesus holds lofty expectations for us, condemning actions of misjudgement that even we, as inevitable sinners, might find ourselves in the midst of. Although the firmness in Jesus’ language can be fearful for some, we can be put at ease to know that this is merely an interaction of God’s loving-kindness and compassion for each of us, much like a concerned parent that is eager to hold our hand as we navigate life’s tumultuous challenges. Specifically, Jesus places the letter of the law into context for us, providing an eloquent elaboration that goes beyond the language of the law and raises the spirit of the law, which essentially, is love. Love for God, and love for our neighbor.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

In the words of  Anglican Bishop Michael Curry when preaching last November on loving thy neighbor, he says: “It’s a commandment! Not an option, not a nice idea. God didn’t say you have to like everyone. Liking is an emotion, Loving is a commitment”. And so I am optimistic that together we can hold each other accountable in keeping this commitment and commandment: to love one another as Christ has loved us.

Yet it begs asking how many times might we have personally neglected to love our neighbor for the sake of our own comfort? More times than we would like to admit I’m sure. Have we concealed a loved one’s identity from family and friends because it makes us embarrassed or ashamed, and we just rather avoid talking about it? Have we stayed silent during instances of injustice or inequality? 

But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven…. You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…

We can see clearly how imperative loving God and loving our neighbor comprise the crux of the law. Personally, I am directly reminded of the quote from Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”: “to love another person is to see the face of God”.

So, my brothers and sisters, as we part ways for now, I bid you this farewell.

Behold what you are and Christ’s presence among you.

Be sure to see the Incarnate Word in our midst.

Do all things in remembrance of Him who died and rose again for you.

And, take careful notice of our continued call to be imitators of Christ: to love one another as Christ so graciously loves you.