Have you ever helped build a house or a garage?
During the past few months,
I’ve watched my neighbor,
over on Wood Street, build a new garage.
His previous garage leaned way over:
it had a bad frame!
So, he knocked it down to build a new one.
A few months ago, he had almost finished the frame,
when we got a strong windstorm
that knocked part of it down. He had to fix it.
He knew that frame had to be solid and straight.
When it comes to our lives,
the frame that holds everything straight
is that first commandment: Love God.
Some think they don’t have time to do that.
Ten minutes a day:
five at the start, five at the end.
If you do that, I predict you’ll see
those few minutes hold everything else together.
Same thing with Sunday Mass, week-to-week:
it’s a frame that supports everything else.
A building not only needs a frame—
It has a purpose.
And the second commandment,
“Love your neighbor,”
is what gives purpose to our lives.
They go together.
Watch what happens when you pull them apart.
Look the terrorists: they’re all about honoring God—
But they consider people expendable!
And if we try to love our neighbor, without God?
It always turns into manipulation,
control, and oppression.
At the most extreme, we think of
Communism, Nazism, and Racism—
all in the name of “the people.”
But what about when we get caught up in a cause—
a political campaign, a union,
some environmental or ideological effort—
and we’re going to save the world.
Notice, if we forget to keep God first,
how easily people become a means to an end.
Here’s an example straight from the headlines:
Everyone is for research that saves lives.
The problem arises when it destroys human life.
Now, you’ve been led to believe we can’t do this research
without destroying embryos—but that is not true!
Did you know there are two kinds of this research:
one that destroys human life, and another that does not?
And did you further know the stem-cell research
that does not destroy human life
is the only one that’s produced results?
The research that respects God’s law, is working;
meanwhile, the version that defies God’s law,
is having problems. Isn’t that interesting?
Notice what the advocates keep saying:
Don’t bring God into it—we just want to help people!
But by leaving God out,
the result is destruction of human life.
I would be remiss if I did not point out
how we got into this mess.
These embryos come from “fertility clinics,”
where human life is created,
outside of human acts of love.
When this business of “test-tube babies” got started,
the Church said, this is gravely sinful;
a child is a gift, and every child has the right
to be conceived in a human relationship, by parents—
not in a dish, by a technician.
That was not popular.
Not being able to conceive is extremely painful
and it seemed the Church didn’t care.
But Pope John Paul predicted this would lead
to the manipulation of human life.
Here’s what he said, 20 years ago:
“the researcher will usurp the place of God…
as the master of the destiny of others…”
Reducing human life to it’s worth
as a “pure and simple instrument
for the advantage of others.”
That is precisely where we have come.
When we separate love of neighbor from love of God,
it will always go sour.
Better to listen to Jesus: Do both.
Pope Benedict recently pointed out,
If I have no contact with God in my life,
how can I see the image of God in other people?
Likewise, only when “I serve my neighbor
can my eyes be opened to what God does for me
and how much he loves me.”
The frame that keeps our life upright
is the first commandment: love God;
We find purpose and meaning in our lives,
By keeping the second commandment: love your neighbor.
I suspect most of us would admit we are good at one,
or the other, of the commandments.
This week, whichever one you’re not so good at—
why not try to work on that, a little more?
The man in the Gospel came to Jesus.
The Lord not only gave him the answer he sought,
he was ready to help him all the way.
He said, you’re not far from the Kingdom!
All he had to do was stay with Jesus—and he was there!
It’s the same for us!
Let him speak to your heart; let him be in charge—
And you and I will also hear,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”