A holy hermit was on a hilltop praying. As he looked down, he could see several people in the distance, making their way along a country road: an old soldier in a tattered uniform, stumbling along on one leg, a gaunt and pale woman staggering under the weight of her starving child, a young man so badly beaten by robbers that he could barely move at all. Looking down upon this terrible parable of life and death, the holy man cried out to God, “O God! How can you, who claim to be a loving father, see such suffering and do nothing about it?”
His question echoed in the silence. And then, out of the silence God responded in a whisper, “I have done something about it, my son, I made you.”
My brothers and sisters, God made that hermit - and all of us - to be a family, to take care of one another, and watch out for and protect one another, the way good families do. When we do that, life works. Even amidst all the messiness and struggling that are part of life, when we do that, happiness is ours.
The Great Commandment which Jesus give us in our Gospel today is not just a rule that God cooked up and we have to obey if we’re interested in heaven. It’s a lot more than that. Loving God and loving each other with all our hearts is, quite simply, the only way of living that works, because it’s the only way of living that makes every last one of us “family” to one another. And “family” is the only place we find happiness. It’s what we’re made for, and nothing less will do.
When we talk about “laws” in the physical sciences, we know, for example, that the law of gravity is not a law because Isaac Newton decided it should be. Newton simply described what is. If anyone doubts that they need only attempt to walk off the roof of their home.
The Great Commandment is like the law of gravity. It’s not something made up. It just describes the way things are. Living our lives out of the Great Commandment makes it possible for each one of us in our own unique way to build up the solidarity that should be a hallmark of the human family.
My brothers and sisters, many of us this week, will have the precious opportunity in this land of freedom to cast our votes in this coming Tuesday’s Election. Today’s Gospel of the Great Commandment is a providential reminder to all of us that the decisions that we make in conscience for the good of our community, State and Country should flow from that larger vision that is ours as a people whose eternal destiny rests on the quality of our love of God and Neighbor. While good Catholics can obviously differ at times in the application of these principles, each of us have a serious obligation to shape the quality and direction of our State and Nation by the Gospel values that are at the heart of our faith:
Will my vote support or weaken a profound respect in our land for the dignity and value of all human life from the first moment of conception to natural death?
Will my vote move us as a society towards or away from universal access to affordable health care for all members in our society - especially the most vulnerable and powerless in our land?
Will my vote promote or weaken social policies which enhance security for all children, unemployed adults, immigrants, and elderly?
Will freedom of religious expression in public life be respected or denigrated as a consequence of my vote?
My friends, the Great Commandment calls us as citizens of this great land not to be timid in voicing our values but rather to be strong, loving and wise in the decisions that we make that can either build up or tear down our national family. So, let us then, take very good care of one another through the responsible decisions we make in this land of freedom.