20 August, Friday – The Greatest Commandment

Aug 20 – Memorial for St. Bernard, abbot, doctor

St. Bernard (1090-1153) founded and led a monastery which had over 700 monks and 160 daughter houses. He revised and reformed the Cistercians, and was advisor to, and admonisher of, King Louis the Fat and King Louis the Young, and spiritual advisor to Pope Eugenius III, who had originally been one of his monks. Every morning, Bernard would ask himself, “Why have I come here?”, and then remind himself of his main duty – to lead a holy life.

Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22
Mt 22:34-40

“wherever you go, I will go, wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.”

The acronym, GOAT, means the Greatest Of All Time. We use it for athletes, celebrities, people who shock and surprise us with their skills/knowledge/talents/intelligence, and even for our friends. What does it mean to be great? We seem to always be debating on who’s the greatest, yet, every 5-10 years, it seems that newer names are coming up and some who were mentioned previously, not being heard of anymore. Why do we have such discussions and debates? How does the answer affect us?

Today, let us reflect on what is the greatest value to us of all time, we refer to value as a principle or virtue. Which is ours and why? For me, it is a dying to myself, a lowering of my pride, because of love, that I look at the bigger picture rather than who’s at fault. This is something I find extremely hard for me — conflict with my loved ones, conflict at the workplace. Yes, I may be at fault, but why do I need to only be the one accepting responsibility? Don’t others know and understand they have a part to play too? A controlling of emotions versus being controlled by your emotions, an understanding of what do you want to achieve. It’s about that greater goal, whether to resolve the conflict or avoid it, whether to forgive, communicate, and be at peace or harbour resentment and hurts?

The choice is ours. Ultimately, we struggle to choose because many times, we do not know yet where we are heading, and we simply prioritise what we need presently, as opposed to where we hope to be in the future. The greatest commandment that Christ gives us in the Gospel today is “You must love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind.” Will this ever be considered as the GOAT? Why or why not? What if we knew that for whatever reason we provide, as the answer, God still actually loves us with all His heart, with all His soul and with all His mind?

Many times, we find ourselves asking the word ‘why’. Maybe God has also asked Himself, why should he still continue to love us? Why doesn’t He just severely punish us for all the sins we are committing, the blasphemy, the lack of respect, obedience, reverence and countless others? Why are we still able to make the same mistakes, the same sins over and over again? Then maybe we think that God only says those to scare us, actually He won’t do anything. But just maybe, that’s how much He loves us. The truth is, He doesn’t need our love, but He still asks us to love Him because when we do, we will receive much more.

So why not start loving Him today?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: (say your own prayer today, let us receive Him and His love into our hearts)

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your Word, your Commandments and putting us first. Thank you for being patient with us. Thank you for always welcoming us home. Amen.

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