Let’s dive into this Gospel reading a bit with a couple of questions.
First, what actually does it mean to “love”?
Answer: love is not a mere emotion, a rush of blood to your . . . face.
It’s not simply a flutter in your stomach.
Love is a choice.
Love is a fundamental commitment to the good of the other person.
So, whether I am talking about loving my family, my friends,
my country, a stranger, or even my enemy, it’s the same:
willing the good of the other person.
But now we have a puzzle: how does this apply to God?
When you and I say we “love” God, how, exactly?
What good can I will for God?
God has every perfection; he needs nothing at all,
that I can either give him or want him to have.
Part of the answer is that God points us to our fellow man, as if to say,
I don’t need anything; but look around:
there are hungry people, folks who are in crisis,
children who are abandoned,
people suffering from poverty or injustice or violence.
You want to love Me, God says? Love them in my name.
So, today, after Mass, you can do this
by picking up some pans and recipes for making casseroles.
I think it’s a good guess that of the 700 hundred or so folks
who will come to Mass here this weekend,
at least half of us are old enough to make a casserole.
Two casseroles aren’t much harder than one.
Making even four casseroles isn’t that difficult.
So, I really think St. Remy could generate 1,000 casseroles.
Let’s see if we can hit 500 this time!
That said, there are those who have tried to boil down
the first commandment, “Love God,”
to the second commandment, “Love they neighbor.”
But if that were all there is to it, then Jesus would have said that.
So there’s still the question: how do you and I actually love God?
And I think part of the answer has to be, to love God as God, meaning,
to adore God, to worship God, to bend the knee to him.
Thus, the first of the Ten Commandments says,
“I am the Lord your God; you shall not have any other gods.”
There are those who say, I don’t see why I am obligated to go to Mass,
I don’t need this – and I suspect some here have said this at times:
the answer is, Yes, you and I do need to go to Mass.
I’d like to take more time on this next point, but I will say briefly,
Notice I said, go to MASS, not merely, “go to church.”
It’s not about the building but about Jesus offering himself for us
to the Father. That’s what Holy Mass IS.
Reading the Bible, praying the Rosary, meditating on God’s Creation –
these are good things, but nothing compares to the Holy Mass.
Many people have legitimate challenges in getting to Mass,
but a lot of the time, it’s because the wrong thing is put first.
Humanity needs to worship God.
If we do not worship God, we will end up worshipping something worse.
Or as Bob Dylan sang, “You gotta serve somebody.”
My German ancestors ran around the Black Forest
worshipping nature and trees. Sound familiar?
We are all in favor of safeguarding the environment,
but do you think some people take it too far?
There’s actually a thing called the “Extinction Movement.”
You know what that’s about? Our extinction: no more humans!
No, we don’t have temples with idols dotting the landscape,
but that doesn’t mean you and I aren’t tempted to worship other gods.
It can be money or success or power or wrath,
but eventually it gets revealed as worshipping ourselves, our own will.
We Americans love to emphasize freedom,
but that too can become an idol.
Consider how the self-will has been lifted so high,
that if you make a joke I don’t like, that’s called “violence.”
Consider the “transgender” phenomenon.
Let’s acknowledge that real people are experiencing
an alienation from themselves – it’s not clear why,
but it really happens and it creates real pain and suffering.
So, I’m not making light of this.
That said, we’re at a point where the supposed answer is,
you and I get to create a bubble of our own reality around ourselves.
I’m going to change my pronouns, and you must agree!
We’re making a god of the will to the point
that I can create my own universe,
superior to the objective world around us!
People experiencing gender confusion deserve better than that.
What happens when we don’t worship God? We worship something else.
And you may scoff and say, that doesn’t affect me,
but our government is determined that it will.
And that’s only one way we go wrong.
To repeat: if you and I don’t worship the one, true God,
then we will worship something else.