1. God in People
2. You Will Be Known by Your Love

Greeting (cf. Second Reading)
We have become imitators of the Lord
and it was with the joy of the Spirit
that we accepted the Gospel;
we have become servants of the real, living God.
May Jesus, the Lord we expect, be always with you. R/ And also with you.

1. God in People
Do we love God? Of course, we say; what a queer question! Is it really so self-evident that we love God with our whole heart and soul and mind? There is a good test of our love of God: How patient are you with your cranky husband or wife? Can you forgive the former friend who cheated you in an important deal? Embrace the uncle that dealt with your widowed mother? Can you still love the neighbour who unjustly brought you to court about the boundary of your property? Your neighbour is the visible shape of the invisible God. Ask Jesus in this Eucharist to recognize him in your neighbour.

2. You Will Be Known by Your Love
Do people still say of our Christian communities today what they said about the first Christians, “See how they love one another”? How different our world would be if we had put into practice a love like that of God and the first Christians! Christian love, the one with which we love God and people and ourselves is a love that has God as its source and force. It is this love which Jesus teaches us and asks of us here in this Eucharist.

Penitential Act
It is difficult to love God in people.
Let us ask the Lord and people
to forgive us where we have failed.

The child in the slums was you, Lord,
and we did not love you:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.

The shy alien living among us is you, Lord,
and we have not learned to love you:
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.

The family around the corner
that has failed to repay its debts is you, Lord,
and it is difficult to love them:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.

In your great mercy, forgive us, Lord,
and help us to love you in people.
Lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.

Opening Prayer
Let us pray that our love of God
may become real and tangible
in our love of our neighbour

God, you display your almighty power
in loving us without regret.
In the human heart of Jesus your Son
you have shown us how far love can go.
Give us a love that is forgiving,
generous and gentle like his,
that we may recognize and welcome him
in our brothers and sisters.
And may our hearts reach out first
to the poorest and the least lovable,
with the gratuitous love you have given us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

First Reading: Love the Poor in the Name of the Covenant
In the name of the covenant, God’s people are asked to do the same for the poor as God has done for his people: show love to strangers, widows and orphans, to people with debts.

1 Reading: Exodus 22:20-26
Thus says the LORD: “You shall not molest or oppress a stranger, for you were once strangers yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. “If you lend money to one of your poor neighbours among my people, you shall not act like an extortion toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbour’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
R. (2) I love you, Lord, my strength.

I love you, O LORD, my strength,
O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. R.

My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies. R.

The LORD lives and blessed be my rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed. R.

Second Reading: Faith Is Contagious
The faith of the Christians of Saloniki is a model to all who believe and inspires other communities. For genuine faith is contagious.

1 Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
Brothers and sisters: You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.

Alleluia John 14:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Above All: Love
Jesus makes love of neighbour the sign of the love of God. What matters above all is love of God and of people.

Gospel Matthew 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall 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 is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Love Is a Decision
Falling in love is a wonderful thing. It is wonderful to be drawn out of self-consciousness to desire and to feel desired and valued and wanted by another human being. But “falling in love” is not “being in love.” “Falling in love” is a feeling that has a biological basis; it is part of the normal attraction of the sexes. The feeling of love is a temporary thing and it will die there if there is not a decision to love, a will to love.
One of the great insights that have come to us from the Marriage Encounter is that love is a decision not a feeling. Husbands and wives vow to love one another in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death parts them. This is a decision, not a feeling. True love means to love even during a time when there are no more feelings, or even negative feelings.
Dr. Scott Peck defines love as, “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” (A Road Less Traveled, p. 85). I like this definition because it shows that love is a decision in the will to extend oneself. It is therefore going to cost something; it is going to make one have to go beyond one’s natural lazy self. Then this definition includes self-love with love for another. Since I am human and you are human, to love means to love myself as well as you. We are incapable of loving another unless we love ourselves. If my stretching to love you is destructive, not just painful to me, then it is not true love.
When Jesus was asked in today’s Gospel which was the greatest – of the more than 600 laws that the Pharisees had – he answered, “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.” In this he was not talking about feelings but about a decision to be totally for God and then totally for the good of one’s neighbour as one should be for one’s own good.
When we pray we are observing this first commandment and also the first commandment of the Mosaic Law, “I am the Lord your God, you shall not have strange gods before me.” Often when we come to prayer we are asking God to give us our false gods of Success, Power, Prestige and Possessions. We often desire warm feeling and feelings of spiritual success or power or prestige. In wordless silence we ask nothing. We will to be with God who is truth. As we do this, God’s light will show up the selfishness and falseness that is in us and in our relationships to ourselves and to others. It will call on us to see reality as it really is and to decide to be for ourselves and for others in the most up-building possible way.
Often people, who make a seminar or retreat, fall in love with God. This is a wonderful feeling as was my feeling after our recently-concluded retreat in Ibadan. This thrill and intoxication can lead people to promise to do extraordinary things for the Lord. But it is not true love, tested love. Tested love is a love that does not dry up when the well runs dry. It is a decision to be for the Lord in good times and in bad. It needs to be supported by a prayer form that is a decision to be for and with the one we love now and forever. In fact, what Jesus tells us today is that there is only ONE Commandment: Love God in the neighbour!

Let us pray to our kind and merciful God that his love for us may animate all we do and that our love may become contagious. Let us say:
R/ Lord, make us instruments of your love.

– That the Church, the People of God, may never cease to proclaim by its teaching, life and liturgy that love of God and neighbour is the heart of the Gospel and that people are God’s gift to us, let us pray:
R/ Lord, make us instruments of your love.
– That people may not lose their hearts in today’s economic systems of profit, efficiency, production and competition, but that they may keep giving first place to human relationships of friendship and respect, let us pray:
R/ Lord, make us instruments of your love.
– That we may have room in our hearts and homes for refugees and strangers, that we may learn to share our goods and ourselves with the little people loved by God – the poor and the lonely and those who suffer, let us pray:
R/ Lord, make us instruments of your love.
– That those who don’t know how to forgive, those who have not experienced much happiness in life or whose longings have not been fulfilled may encounter a bit of God’s goodness in our attention and care, let us pray:
R/ Lord, make us instruments of your love.
– That in our Christian communities we may uplift one another rather than tear down, accept each other with trust and affection, forgive one another from the heart and go forward together in hope and love, let us pray:

R/ Lord, make us instruments of your love.

Our gentle God, help us to love you and one another with your measure, that is, without measure, in Christ Jesus our Lord. R/ Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
God our Father,
in this Eucharist we remember
how Jesus your Son gave himself
with a love without measure,
going all the way through suffering and death.
Make our love creative, like his,
that we too may not break the crushed reed
nor put out the smoldering wick
but lift up the weak
and sustain one another in hope.
Let this be our answer to your love,
by the power of Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
In this Eucharist we remember how Jesus sacrificed himself for us because he loved us without limits. Let us thank the Father for this love and offer him our willingness to live for him and for people.

Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer
We know that the Father loves us
and so we pray to him
Jesus’ prayer of trust. R/ Our Father…

Deliver Us
Deliver us Lord, from the coldness of sin
which refuses to warm up
to you and our neighbour.
Keep us free from pride
which looks down on others.
Banish all envy and hatred from among us,
and bind us together in your love,
that we may prepare in hope and joy
for the full coming among us
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom…

Invitation to Communion
This is Jesus the Lord, who said:
Love the Lord your God
with your whole heart and soul;
love one another as I have loved you.
By this love people will know
that you are my disciples. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…

Prayer after Communion
God our Father,
you have satisfied our hunger for love
by giving us your Son Jesus Christ.
Following his example, let us send no one away empty,
exclude no one, classify no one,
build no walls around ourselves or others.
Let our happiness not be complete
as long as our brothers and sisters suffer.
Help us to take all the risks of love,
for it is not so much our love we want to give
but yours, which became visible
in Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

In this Eucharist we have experienced
God’s love for us.
Now that he has warmed us with his love,
may we let its glow shine
on those around us,
with the blessing of almighty God:
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
Go, and love one another as the Lord has loved you. R/ Thanks be to God.

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