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Fr. Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: The Love-Commandment


(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)


            Jesus clearly states in today’s Gospel that a believer carrying out the love-commandment in life does better than someone who venerates God merely by means of ritual observance. This was already prefigured in Hosea: “It is compassion that I desire, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6, cf. Matthew 12:7).

            If this is the case, how do we assess the “love-balance” in today’s world. The story is very encouraging to a very large extent. There are still some people who continue to cross oceans, continents, country, lands, etc. to bring relief to people. For these people their love for God moves them beyond limits to serve their fellow human beings. I still see young Germany Catholic students come to Ghana and chose deprived places in the North to serve as teachers and health assistants. Some diocesan priests have accepted the directives from their bishops to go to some places in Africa who need priests. Some of our brothers who find themselves in the Americas are not in the cities but abandoned villages. There are some village parishes who have not have resident priests for years and the arrival of some of our brothers in those parishes were greeted with township warm arms. We serve God better in the love we show to our neighbours.

            Let us not make Christianity merely a ritual observance Institution. If it was only about ritual observance then we may have better remain in paganism. Ritual observance spread and instill fear and always put people on the edge. It makes people rigid and robotic. Do you remember the story of the two people who went to the temple to pray (the Pharisee and the Publican)? The Pharisee on that day was just a robot acting based on an “installed software” but the Publican knew the simple theology of love of God (who came not for the righteous but for the sinner) and love of neighbour, because in turn he did not accuse the Pharisee.

            The second reading underscores yet again and in the clearest possible terms that Jesus’ priesthood is an existential one that no longer ritually offers animals in the temple, as the former priests had to do for their sins and the sins of the people. Instead Jesus offers himself as the spotless One whose entire sacrificial self-offering was “necessary” to make genuine expiation for us. And, because “Jesus remains forever”, his priestly act of sacrifice on the Cross is not a thing of the temporal past. His is an “everlasting priesthood” and his self-offering takes place now and always, “for he lives forever to make intercession for us.” Thus, by virtue of his “everlasting priesthood” and out of his eternal standpoint, his Eucharist is able to make his one-time offering now and always present in our own time.

            Jesus clearly shows in today’s Gospel that the commandment to love one’s neighbour should take its place alongside the all-surpassing command to love God. We should try and go outside ourselves to love others who may not be in our circles. Don’t sit within yourself and tick yourself right for the keeping of the commandment; be others-centered, That is the Christ way.


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