This week’s Collect, for the 25th Ordinary Sunday (Novus Ordo), was introduced into the Missale Romanum with the Novus Ordo but it is influenced by a prayer in the ancient Veronese Sacramentary.
Deus, qui sacrae legis omnia constituta in tua et proximi dilectione posuisti, da nobis, ut, tua praecepta servantes, ad vitam mereamur pervenire perpetuam.
OBSOLETE ICEL (1973):
Father, guide us, as you guide creation according to your law of love. May we love one another and come to perfection in the eternal life prepared for us.
O God, who placed all things of the sacred law which were constituted in the love of You and of neighbor, grant us that we, observing Your precepts, may merit to attain to eternal life.
This Collect seems to be founded on the exchange between Jesus and a lawyer:
“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets’” (Matthew 22:34-40).
St Thomas Aquinas (+1274) glossed this verse in his Commentary on Saint Matthew:
When man is loved, God is loved, since man is the image of God.
Pope Francis would approve of this sort of Thomism.
In 1 John 4:21 there is a good explanation of this double precept: “This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.”
All of the Law is summed up in Jesus’ two-fold command of love of God and neighbor. The
first part of the two-fold law is about unconditional love of God. The second follows as its
We must cultivate our different loves in their proper order. God comes first, always.
A married person must love God more even than a spouse. We must never put any creature, no matter how proximate to us in our hearts, closer than the God in whose image and likeness we are made. When this logical priority is properly in place, love of God and neighbor will not conflict or compete. Each love fuels the other, when love of God is first.
Today’s Collect reestablishes that we have a special relationship with each person who lives, and not merely with God alone. People are made in God’s image. They are our neighbors, though some are closer to us than others.
But there is no person on earth who is not in some way our neighbor.
This reciprocal relationship calls to mind another act of reciprocity which the Lord teaches us: forgive or you will not be forgiven.
When our Savior taught us how to pray what we now call the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), the first thing he then explained and stressed was forgiveness:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (vv 14-15).
It is often hard to forgive.
The second section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church digs into the Lord’s Prayer. When we get to the examination of “…as we forgive those who trespass against us” we read (2842):
“This ‘as’ is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: ‘You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’; ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’; ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.’ It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make ‘ours’ the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves ‘forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us.’”
When it is your time to go to Your Lord, will you be well-reconciled with the neighbors you
leave behind? Our time will come. Let us pray daily that we will not die without the solace and strengthening of the sacraments and an opportunity to make peace with our neighbor.
Do you have unfinished business?
CURRENT ICEL (2011):
O God, who founded all the commands of your sacred Law upon love of you and of our
neighbor, grant that, by keeping your precepts, we may merit to attain eternal life.