It always amazes me that the simple things are the most important and, at the same time, the most difficult to achieve. The greatest law is to love God and our neighbor; that simple commandment is the key to all relationships and the path to achieve perfection in all aspects of humanity.

For some reason, because of what we call “sinful nature,” or our “fallen state,” we are more inclined to seek to be loved than to love. Just look at the important things in life and you will see how people look to their accomplishments so that they may be admired, loved, and given special consideration. And many times they are.

But the commandment asks us to love Someone other than ourselves, One much greater than we are. The Saint of Assisi, prayed in this way: “O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love…”

To love is a great challenge. Real love is hard to find and more difficult to practice, because it implies self-denial in order to serve and care for others and, in the end, to live for them. Considering, however, that love of ourselves is very powerful and a part of human nature that does not need to be taught to us, the Lord commands us to translate this same love into a love for others. There is rarely a person whom we love more than ourselves; yet on occasion we do sacrifice ourselves for them because our love goes beyond and we find in their happiness our own happiness.

There is only One whom we can and should always love more than ourselves, and that is God. If you notice that when the commandment speaks of God, it does not mention love of God in the same way as love of ourselves, but it asks us to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. That kind of love belongs only to God, not to anyone else, not even to ourselves.

But the commandment assumes that we truly love our very selves; yet not everyone loves himself or herself in the right way. We need to learn to love ourselves in such a manner, and then the love of others will be great. If each one of us can love ourselves properly, we will know that happiness consists in loving God with all our heart, all our soul with all our mind, and we will learn that the persons who are beside us are created in the divine image. and in loving them we find our final vocation to love and to serve while we are here on Earth, so as to continue to love forever in heaven, because even though everything else will pass, love never ends.

-Fr. Sergio