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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, October 26, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Matthew 22:34–46

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 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 greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (NRSV)

Many songs have been written about love, such as the immortal “What Is This Thing Called Love?” in which Cole Porter tried to define love. Jesus taught love too, a much deeper love, and his song is the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” But how can we love God or our neighbor if we don’t know “what is this thing called love?”

True love is listening and understanding the other. Listening not so you can argue your point more forcefully, but listening so you can feel empathy for the other, genuine care and understanding. True listening takes time, openness, and vulnerability. Love will not always be convenient or easy, but it will deepen and grow stronger over time.

Love is freely given; you can’t buy it. True love is not forced; you have a choice to love or not. God always loves you, yet you have a choice to love God or to reject God’s love. Love is beyond our control; it’s like the sun or the wind, which touches everyone equally and without regard to any issue or circumstance. Love has no boundaries; it outlasts time and overcomes distance. Nothing can stop love. Love always wins. 

Love has consequences. When you realize that love connects us all, you begin to see yourself in the other, all others. What you do affects me, and what I do affects you. Love honors the other; love values difference and welcomes all with compassion. Love treats the other with respect and wants only the very best for the beloved. ”What’s love got to do with it?” sings Tina Turner. There are so many ways to show our love of others, including, in this season, by voting, for voting is listening, trying to understand, seeing ourselves in others. We can fill out the ballot with this thing called love, making our vote a choice to love our neighbor as ourselves.

O God, you loved us first so that we may love ourselves and our neighbor and, in so doing, love you. Help us to love with understanding, openness, and with compassion. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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