In our first reading today, Ruth had already figured out the teaching that Jesus spoke about in our Gospel reading. She refused to leave her mother-in-law alone, even though she herself was from a distant land and a different people. She could have turned and gone back there, and her mother-in-law gave her leave to do so. But Ruth knew her place was where she was and she cemented the friendship and love between them.
This is the love that Jesus speaks about in today’s Gospel. Love God and neighbor – that is the call of our lives, and the project we live out every day that we have breath. These two commandments are completely inseparable, because we love others as they are other christs in our lives. We are called to pour out on one another the same great love that God has poured out on us. This is how we in fact return that love to God and show our love for him.
Pius X was a good pastoral man who lived these words and taught them to others. He was born Joseph Sarto, the second of ten children in a poor Italian family. He became pope at the age of 68, and he too wanted to open the banquet for all those who would come worthily. He encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion, which was observed sparingly in his day, and especially encouraged children to come to the banquet. During his reign, he famously ended, and subsequently refused to reinstate, state interference in canonical affairs. He had foreseen World War I, but because he died just a few weeks after the war began, he was unable to speak much about it. On his deathbed, however, he said, “This is the last affliction the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.”
Our God has blessed us with love beyond all imagining. We have great teachers of that love today: Ruth, who refused to leave her mother-in-law alone in her grief, and Pius X who would give anything if the people he shepherded could avoid the scourge of war. Each of us is called to pour out God’s love on one another too, and we will most likely have at least one opportunity to do that today. The two greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor. What will that look like for us today?