Love God As You Love Yourself
By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFM pastor of Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus,
Servant General of the Order Franciscans of Divine Mercy
We are an All-inclusive, welcoming and affirming Faith Community and Ministry Of the Reformed Catholic Church

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Based on readings for 2/23/2020: Leviticus 19, Psalm 103, 1 Corinthians 3:16-23, Matthew 5:38

Two weeks ago, February 14th, ,we celebrated a day dedicated to love and the feast honoring Saint
Valentine.   Valentine’s Day is an extremely popular commercial holiday where people usually give
some special recognition to their loved ones, but, if we follow the advice found in reading holy
scripture, we should be loving all God’s children every day of the year.
“Be holy, for I, the Lord, Your God, am holy” these words from the first reading from the book of
Leviticus are potent, and a reminder of how we should be living our lives every day, and when we
couple these with the words from Sunday’s Gospel; “You have heard how it was said, you shall love
your neighbor and hate your enemies, but I say to you; love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you; that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he causes his sun to rise on
the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike. For if
you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much?
And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even
the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  
There should be no doubt in our minds that Christ is clearly telling us to love, not hate, forgive not
seek revenge or engage in violence.  Paul’s letter to the Corinthians chapter 13 sums up quite clearly
what true and lasting love really is “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or
proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
When we meet someone, it should not be a physical attraction that draws us too them, but the
deeper spiritual actions that they exhibit toward others like; kindness, charity, honesty and
faithfulness.  Mother Teresa put it nicely when she would tell people “Give your hands to serve and
your hearts to love.'' - Mother Teresa
Christ tells us that love is the greatest commandment, Love of God and Love of your neighbor.  
Today the word love is far too often confused with sex and nothing could be further from the truth.  
For true love to blossom and bloom there must be understanding, honesty, trust, truth, cooperation
and devotion.  Both parties must be willing to give 100% of themselves to the other.
In Galatians 5:22 we are informed that love is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and therefore it is a
special gift that comes from Almighty God “But the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness”, (Galatians 5:22) and like all gifts from God it should not be taken
lightly but appreciated and used in accordance with God’s intentions. Take special note of the gifts
that follow love and its placement as the first gift of the Holy Spirit. We should also remember that
“Deus Caritas Est” “God is Love” and therefore love is the most powerful force in the universe since
it is of God and in God.
The way we live our life should be a reflection to all we meet of our love for God and for all God’s
children and God’s creations. We do this by voicing our indignation for the actions of governments
and individuals who promote hatred, bigotry, discrimination, violence and indifference to the
We should advocate funding for quality affordable health care for all, adequate affordable housing,
insuring every person has nourishing food to eat, there is affordable quality education for every
child, and respect, equality and justice for the rights of every human being.  “The Lord is waiting for
you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who seek his help”. (Isaiah 30:17-19) This is a reminder that we need not be afraid
to seek God’s help to achieve these goals but always look to God for our help and assistance in
achieving them.
“But love your enemies, do well to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the
ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:35) these words of Christ from the Gospel of Luke advise us that one
way to love our enemies is to pray for them.  We should be praying that God will open theirs and our
hearts toward finding solutions to the things that have caused the discord, pain and separation.
This coming Wednesday we will celebrate Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the season of
Lent, a time to reflect on how well we are doing in following the will of God which has been  given to
us by the prophets and Our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the issues we should examine, may well be,
how well we are loving God and our neighbor and what things we might want to do to improve
showing our love of God by our interactions with our neighbors.
As we go forth from this place let us show our love for God’s children by putting our daily activities
into actions that support God’s will.  
I close this reflection with this prayer from 2 Thessalonians 2 : 16-17  “May our Lord Jesus Christ
himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and
good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”   May
Almighty God’s love overflow within your hearts and out toward all those who you encounter every
day.        AMEN