What is the relationship
 between law and love?

Readings: Deut. 4.-18; Ps. 15; Js. 1.17-27; Mk. 7.1-23

On the one hand, some fascists might prefer to have lots of laws without much love. On the other hand, some libertarians might opt to have lots of love without many laws. Theoretically, however, law and love are related. We need them both; we cannot have one without the other. Law and love mutually affect, mold, shape, and develop each other. Law and love help to form each other. We trust that a loving heart will create good laws, and that good laws will help to ensure a loving heart. Do you appreciate the interaction, the mutuality, the reciprocity of law and love?

Presumably we are talking about good laws because throughout past and current history there have been plenty of bad laws. And presumably we are speaking about Christian love because in our current post-Christian society, love is oftentimes spelled "l-u-v." Right now, popular in Western Civilization is luv without any laws.

In today's first reading, we heard the Prologue to the Ten Commandments: "Now, Israel, hear the statuettes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe. Observe them carefully." The author comments that other nations will comment, "This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people." This event took place about 1250 BC.

In today's gospel, Jesus criticizes the people. The Jewish laws, over a period of 1200 years, had increased from 10 to 613. Many of these new laws pertained to ritual cleansing and dietary restrictions. Jesus criticizes the people for having kept the man-made laws, but for not having kept God's laws. Jesus says what God wants is that people reject "evil thinking," and reject the practice of "unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly." The people had sinned. They had kept their laws but not God's laws. They did not form their laws with God's love. And reciprocally, they ignored God's laws in expressing their human love of people and things. Love and laws mutually reinforce each other. Jesus wants our good human laws to be permeated with God's love. And Jesus wants our human love to be constrained according to God's good laws.

Students, at this time of the year, when you study, do it for the right reasons. Don't do it simply because your parents have forced you to study. Don't do it simply because you want to get a good grade point average. Use well your time and God-given talents to learn the accumulated knowledge that generations for thousands of years have handed on to you. Study for the best reasons. Study because your God-given vocation currently is being a student. Study in order to develop your God-given talents in praise of God and in service of other people.

Adults, when you volunteer in the parish and/or in the local community, do it for the right reasons. Volunteer because God has blessed you with certain talents, and you wish to share them for the praise of God and service of other people.

Let our good laws and our God-given human love mutually help each other to grow. And when we study or volunteer, let our good actions mutually enrich our loving hearts and souls. We can't and won't have good laws without a loving heart, and your loving heart needs to be constrained by God's good laws.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley