St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time B21

Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Three simple commands on the surface, but the devil (angel?) is in the details. Which one is the most difficult for you?

The love of God is almost impossible to grade. But the love of neighbor gives a clue and is the only guide to its existence, “for whoever does not love a brother who he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”[1] And, love of self seems to be, well, selfish. But, you can’t give what you don’t have. Without love of self, you cannot love others. Love of self is hard because we know our faults, no matter how well we try to hide them from others. And if have any doubts of that, ask somebody; they would be happy to inform you! Believe what I told you last week: “The Lord has sent us his Son, who has had every emotion we have, who revealed God’s immeasurable, unconditional love, care and mercy for us, no matter what.”

Of the three, I think we have to broaden the definition of “who is my neighbor”.[2] Listen to this: “for creation was made subject to futility … in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning ….”[3] That includes trees, mountains, the sea and fresh water, spiders, ants, and all animals, wild and tame.

“He [St. Francis of Assisi] shows us just how inseparable is the bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”  “What is more, St. Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness.”[4]

Francis, the Bishop of Rome, says that to use the natural world only to enrich ourselves, to plunder its resources and to degrade its beauty to meet our own objectives, is “to commit a crime against the natural world and a sin against ourselves, to our human neighbors and a sin against God.”[5]

Francis of Assisi wrote a reflection called “The Canticle of Brother Sun” in which he calls the sun, the moon, fire, water, and earth brother, sister or mother, personifying them, making me see them as my neighbors whom I must love as myself, not harming them but doing well by them.

Until we take seriously  our natural world, “all creation is groaning”. Can you hear it?


[1] 1 John 4:20b. Also see Mt. 25:31-46.

[2] Lk 10:29

[3] Romans 8:20-22.

[4] Cf. Laudato  Si’, Pope Francis #’s 10,12.

[5] Laudato Si, #8

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