It seems that everywhere I turn these days, I’m reading about love.  God’s love for us in Jesus.  Jesus love for us in giving himself for us.  Stephen’s love for those who stoned him to death.  St. John’s insistence that we love one another, and if we do this it is enough (and we will know God’s love in our lives).  Today it’s some excerpts from a commentary on John by Augustine of Hippo:

The Lord, the teacher of love, full of love, came in person … and showed that the law and the prophets are summed up in two commandments of love.  … They ought to be very familiar to you; they should not only spring to mind when I mention them, but ought never to be absent from your hearts.  … Love of God is the first to be commanded, but love of neighbor is the first to be put into practice.  … Since you do not yet see God, you merit the vision of God by loving your neighbor.  By loving your neighbor you prepare your eye to see God:  St. John says clearly:  “If you do not love your neighbor whom you see, how will you love God whom you do not see!”  … Love your neighbor, then, and see within yourself the power by which you love your neighbor; there you will see God, as far as you are able.  Begin, then, to love your neighbor.  “Break your bread to feed the hungry, and bring into your home the homeless poor; if you see someone naked, clothe them, and do not look down on your own flesh and blood.”  … In loving your neighbor and caring for others, you are on a journey.  Where are you traveling if not to the Lord God …  We have not yet reached his presence, but we have our neighbor at our side.

By all accounts, that active love of neighbor was considered the only clear mark of discipleship in the early church.  And the great commandment (to love God and our neighbor) and the new commandment (to love one another as Jesus has loved us) are the only commands that Jesus gave us.  He tells us that if we can do this, we have fulfilled the law and the prophets and it will be clear to all who see us that we are his followers.

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