Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last Sunday, we had a wonderful 10-year anniversary celebration of the first Vietnamese Language Mass celebrated at Our Lady of La Vang Parish – Bishop Dominic blessed the renovated Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang on the occasion! I am very grateful to all of you for your participation in the event. For the Vietnamese Christmas Concert event, fundraising tickets are currently on sale. Please continue to invite your relatives and friends to purchase VIP tickets to help us generate income for the two major parish projects.
Today’s readings give us the most important pair of commandments in the Bible. The first and greatest commandment, is to love God and express that love in action by loving Him living in our neighbor. The first reading from Exodus explains the second great commandment to love one’s neighbors, especially the underprivileged. The chosen people of Israel were reminded that they were once aliens in the land of Egypt. Just as God protected them and treated them kindly, they were instructed to do the same and protect others and treat them with kindness. Thus, they were to become a humane society rooted in the basic religious concept of loving God living in their neighbor. In the second reading, St. Paul congratulates the Thessalonians on the positive effects of their model behavior of loving one another as Jesus had commanded them to do. Their mutual love bolstered the faith of Christians in other areas who heard about them. In the Gospel today, Jesus combines the commandments to love God and to love one’s neighbor, and gives us the result as one grand commandment of supreme importance in Christian life. Namely, Jesus underlines the principle that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves because as God’s children, we both bear God’s image, and in loving each other to honor God’s image, we honor Him. Love for our neighbor is not a matter of feelings, but of deeds that we carry out, through which we share with others the unmerited love that God lavishes on us.
The message for us this week is to love God and to love our neighbor. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, means that we should place God’s will ahead of our own – to seek the Lord's will in all things and make it paramount in our lives. There are several ways we can express our love for God and our gratitude to Him for His blessings, and to acknowledge our total dependence on Him. We must keep God's commandments and offer daily prayers of thanksgiving, praise and petition. We were made in the image of love, so we also need to love our neighbors because we are all children of God, and God is love.
Sincerely yours in Christ and Our Lady of La Vang!
Reverend Joseph Luan Nguyen - Pastor