Saint Pius X was a great pope and a great example for us to follow: an example of faith, holiness, courage and conviction. Pope St. Pius defended the purity of the Catholic Faith against several modern heresies and he instilled further dignity in the celebration of the liturgy. He worked hard behind the scenes to avoid war in 1914 but died shortly after its outbreak. From his teaching we learn again that ‘the folly of the Cross’, simplicity of life, and humility of heart are still the indispensable conditions for living a perfect Christian life, since, as St. Paul tells us, they are the very source of all apostolic activity. Pope Pius was canonised in 1954.
Jewish Law at the time of Christ was elaborate to say the least. Centuries of tradition and tinkering with the texts had resulted in a multiplicity of commands, instructions, and guidelines governing almost every aspect of life and faith, right down to the tithing of garden herbs. And not only that, various groups such as the Pharisees, Sadducees and others each interpreted and taught about the Law in different and sometimes conflicting ways. It’s no wonder people were confused.
When some of the Pharisees who opposed Our Lord asked him what was the greatest of all the commandments, you get the sense that they were not really searching for the truth. Rather, aware of a myriad of possible interpretations, they were hoping that Our Lord might say something that could embroil him in controversy and maybe even discredit him.
Our Lord’s reply wasn’t simply his spin on Jewish law and tradition. Instead, he reminded his hearers that love is at the heart of Judaism—and, by extension, his message as well. God created us out of love; he loved us before we even existed; he will always love us. This is a love that brings life and remains true to that life until the very end.
Our Lord taught that as God loves us, so too are we to love him—and one another. But how is this possible? Some days it seems hard enough to love ourselves, let alone other people—or even God. But God knows how he created us, and He hasn’t given us an impossible mission. How we do it is to ask him to fill our hearts with his love. Then, that love will start flowing back to him in our worship and it will flow out to others in acceptance, forgiveness and service.
It’s nothing for God to soften a hard heart, to warm a cold one, to restore a broken one, or to breathe life into an unresponsive one. In fact, this is something God loves to do. We have only to ask. No special prayers are necessary. Simple words, spoken quietly, even silently, are sufficient. It’s that easy, because God is so good.