Throughout the last two months this notion of the Gospel as Relationship has really consumed me. The idea was first kicked off when, while studying the 10 commandments, I had heard for the first time that some artist renderings of Moses with the tablets show three commandments on one tablet and the other seven on the other. It shows the delineation of the Law as commandments dealing with the relationship between man and God (the 3) and man with one another (the 7). While I could go on about how interesting the difference in number of commandments is, it really has driven home the Gospel as relationship.
Indeed this is what Jesus says when he is asked to explain the Law. “To love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.” This amazing summation of the law is a testament to the Gospel as relationship. Jesus is making it clear that true humanity is recognizing oneself as a relational being. Therefore, living in a way that pleases God is equated to living in a way that honors, respects, and helps to keep relationships holy, pure, and well formed. This really is the summation of our purpose. It’s also a beautiful reflection of heaven. Heaven is not just a place with winged angels playing harps, or where we get everything we want, heaven is a place of ultimate justice where peace, love, unity, and perfect relationship in harmony exists. Forever.
I think this notion of Gospel as Relationship is lost on the world at large, and even sometimes among Catholic faithful. We sometimes get wrapped up in overly scrupulous practices, false senses of piety and holiness, and shallow religiosity. But indeed, what Christ has come to redeem is the lost relationship with our Father, and therefore with one another. He has established the way love should be with His Passion. He has shown us true holiness, one that allows us to live a life of radical love, is possible and empowers us to do so through His Resurrection. And then calls us to sanctify the world and our relationship to it through His Holy Spirit. Indeed, the sum of all revelation, of all thoughts of final cause and purpose, and the Gospel itself is relationship.
Let us then get on with the work of tilling our hearts to build a better relationship with the Lord our God, so that we may be able to learn to love ourselves, accept ourselves, forgive ourselves as Christ has forgiven us, and ,therefore, radically love others as we do indeed love ourselves. This is true religion. This is true holiness.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.