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Spirituality of the Readings
30th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Year A
October 25, 2020
John Foley, SJ
Look What Love Is Doing

Kids go through grade school and high school with important questions to face. Am I “in” with the crowd? Can I could hold my own against the bullies, can I get along with girls, can I get along with the boys, did I wear the right clothes, am I cool enough? These are obviously more important and more crucial than anything else in their lives.

God does not fail at love. God waits.

This was the case in my own life, and I suppose it was the reason I did not think much about the place of “love” in the overall scheme of life. Of course, who "thinks" when they are in high school?

Then as a college freshman I had Fr. Robert Boyle, SJ, for English literature. He was a great teacher, without question, and one proof of his greatness lay in a statement he often made:

If you want to know what is happening
in a work of literature,
look what love is doing.

Look at what love is doing!

  “What?” my barely 18 year old self gasped.

I had never known explicitly that love was such a big deal. I thought it was something parents have for you and tell you about it over and over. Could it really be the key to plays, poems, novels, short stories and literature? The key to humanity? Ulp. I had better pay attention.

We went through Shakespeare, Hopkins, Joyce, Keats, Milton, and I can’t remember how many more. The clouds parted and I began to see that Boyle was right: characters’ lives do center around something called “love” or the lack of it. Try it out when you read your next serious novel or short story. Which character acts out of real regard for the other(s) and which does not? What happens as a result?

Oh, and what about love in our own lives?

Have you discovered that love is quite a bit more than pretense, more than an ideal, more than just a thing we crave from others, and certainly more than just pleasure? Have you seen that learning to love is the very air inhaled by such everyday importances as work, relaxation, attractions, happiness? Without love’s living atmosphere none of these could breathe, nor could we.

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus says this in no uncertain terms.

You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind. ...

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

  “What?” we might exclaim (as I did in college). We thought that law consisted of commands placed upon us from the outside, rules whose violation would bring punishment! What is this about law depending on love?

Well, take a look.

God does not fail at love. God waits. God says, “how wonderful that you are learning!” God says, “I love every person on earth. And you: you are my beloved. I am at your side as you learn to open to me and to others.”

You and I do not judge ourselves as succeeding in this very often, so we need laws to help us. But the root of law and of life is love of others. It is loving concern under God for human persons. Ultimately it is an imitation of God’s love for us.

  “Look what love is doing

John Foley, SJ

Father Foley can be reached at:
Fr. John Foley, SJ

Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go