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Created out of love, to love

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI

Today’s gospel, Matthew 22:34–40, is at the heart of Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.

The Sadducees had already failed to trap Jesus. Now the Pharisees put Him to a test, asking Him which is the greatest commandment of the Law. There were 613 prescriptions/precepts in the law of Moses.

Jesus answers: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.”

Moses was handed the Ten Commandments by God. LOVE is the greatest commandment. It underpins the mission of our Archdiocese: We, the people of God, are building the civilisation of love—love of God, neighbour, creation, and self.

It is love that should guide the life of a Christian. Throughout our scriptures, we are reminded of this. Remember St Paul’s words in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13: 1–13): “…without love, then I am nothing at all…there are three things that last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.”

Pope Francis has said: “God, who is Love, created us to make us participants in his life, to be loved by him and to love him, and with him, to love all other people. This is God’s ‘dream’ for mankind. And to accomplish it we need his grace…”

In Fratelli Tutti, the Holy Father calls us to demonstrate our love for God and neighbour by breaking down barriers and building bridges/right relationships. As Cardinal John Dew says, Fratelli Tutti invites us to do more than just make small changes to our lives. “Rather it is very much about a way to re-read and to live the Gospel for our times” (Vatican News).

The challenge we have is how to love as Jesus wants us to do—in a world in which individualism, selfishness, greed, moral relativism, racism, sexism, xenophobia etc create in the hearts and minds of so many a distorted view of the world and of their place in it.

Only love can move us from ‘I, me and myself’, to ‘We’. Fratelli Tutti is long, but it’s worth reading as there are so many nuggets of wisdom in it. The various themes contained therein truly bring the social doctrine of the Church to life.

Works of mercy and works of social action are essential if we love God and neighbour.


Here are just a few quotations from this timely encyclical that should resonate with us:

“We are growing ever more distant from one another, while the slow and demanding march towards an increasingly united and just world is suffering a new and dramatic setback…we need to think of ourselves more and more as a single  family dwelling in a common home” (16,17).

“Some economic rules have proved effective for growth, but not for integral human development. Wealth has increased, but together with inequality, with the result that ‘new forms of poverty are emerging’. The claim that the modern world has reduced poverty is made by measuring poverty with criteria from the past that do not correspond to present-day realities” (21).

“In today’s world, the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia. What reigns instead is a cool, comfortable and globalised indifference, born of deep disillusionment concealed behind a deceptive illusion: thinking that we are all-powerful, while failing to realise that we are all in the same boat” (30).

“Migrants are not seen as entitled like others to participate in the life of society, and it is forgotten that they possess the same intrinsic dignity as any person” (39).

“I cannot truly encounter another unless I stand on firm foundations, for it is on the basis of these that I can accept the gift the other brings and in turn offer an authentic gift of my own. I can welcome others who are different, and value the unique contribution they have to make, only if I am firmly rooted in my own people and culture” (143).

“It is an act of charity to assist someone suffering, but it is also an act of charity, even if we do not know that person, to work to change the social conditions that caused his or her suffering” (186).

All of us, as believers, need to recognize that love takes first place. Love must never be put at risk, and the greatest danger lies in failing to love…it is love, Gospel love, that impels us towards universal communion.

Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 92, 95