Dear Parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy,
I hope you are well and enjoying this autumn season.
In the gospel passage this weekend, Jesus expands on the question “Which is the most important commandment?” Jesus says, “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 12:31).
In the first commandment (“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” [Matthew 12:30]) Jesus speaks of the vertical dimension of our spiritual lives. We need always to be oriented toward God with our minds and hearts, and with our hands “lifted up” toward God in prayer. This makes us aware that we are constantly standing in a relationship with God, our Father and Creator, who loves us.
But Jesus reminds us that we must also be aware of the horizontal dimension of our spiritual lives. We cannot simply look up to God and neglect the needs of our brothers and sisters. We need to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” In practical terms, we should follow the “golden rule” and deal with others as we would want them to deal with us.
These two “commandments” go much further than the ten great commandments that are the basis of the Law of Moses. They are open-ended, and for that reason many people are not really comfortable with them.
Brothers and sisters, we need to grow up spiritually! We need to realize that there is much of life that is not covered by the Ten Commandments. They tell us what we “should not” do, but Jesus wants us to grow up enough to be able to decide what we “should do” in every situation that we encounter in life.
He wants us to have this basic multi-dimensional, all-encompassing sense of God’s presence in our lives. That means that we need to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Yes, we need to grow up and to wake up to the fact that our religion is about living our lives in relationship to God first of all, and also living in a “Godly” relationship with all the people around us! Even the people we don’t like and the people who don’t like us. That is the real challenge, but that is precisely what Jesus did in his life. If we can do that then Jesus may also say to us that “we are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Saying that, I would like to remind you that on Tuesday, November 2nd, we will commemorate all the faithful departed. It is All Souls Day! We have an obligation to remember them in our prayers and to show that we are still in communion with them. That is also one of the ways we show love of our neighbors and our love of God. We do well if we come to Mass that day. Please see this bulletin for our schedule of Masses.
Also, the Jubilee Cross will be coming to our church next Sunday, Nov. 7, at our 12 noon Mass. Bishop Gregory Studerus will be with us again and be the main celebrant of that Mass. As many of you know, this year 2021 marks the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines. It was 500 years ago when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan introduced Christianity to the Philippines in 1521. As part of the celebration, the Jubilee cross is brought to parishes in our area with a majority of Filipino churchgoers such as our parish. This Jubilee cross will stay at Our Lady of Mercy until Saturday December 4.
Last but not the least, it is Halloween! I ask you to be extra careful when you and your children do trick or treating in the neighborhood.
Be safe and God bless you all!