A READING FROM THE TREATISES ON ST JOHN BY ST AUGUSTINE
The Lord himself comes, the teacher of love, full of love, ‘shortening the word upon the earth’, as was foretold of him. He shows that the law and the prophets depend on the two precepts of love.
What those two commandments are, brethren, recall with me. They ought to be most familiar, and not come to mind just when they are mentioned by us; rather, they should never be blotted out from your hearts. Always, at all times, reflect that you must love God and your neighbour: God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; your neighbour as yourself.
At all times these must be pondered, they must be meditated and retained, they must be practised and fulfilled. The love of God comes first in the order of command, but the love of neighbour first in the order of action. The man who would teach you this love in two commandments should not commend to you first your neighbour and then God, but first God and then your neighbour.
You do not yet see God, but by loving your neighbour you gain the sight of God; by loving your neighbour you purify your eye for seeing God, as John says clearly: If you do not love the brother whom you see, how will you be able to love God whom you do not see?
You are told: love God. If you say to me: ‘Show me the one I am to love’, what shall I answer, except what John himself says: No one has ever seen God? Do not think that you are altogether unsuited to seeing God – no, for John states: God is love, and he who dwells in love is dwelling in God. Love your neighbour therefore, and observe the source of that love in you; there, as best you can, you will see God.
So then, begin to love your neighbour. Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; if you see the naked, cover him, and do not despise the servants of your kinsfolk. If you do this, what will you obtain? Then shall your light break forth like the morning. Your light is your God to you he is ‘morning light’, because he will come to you after the night of the world; he neither rises nor sets, because he abides always.
By loving your neighbour and being concerned about your neighbour, you make progress on your journey. Where is your journey, if not to the Lord God, to him whom we must love with all our heart, and with all soul, and with all our mind? We have not yet reached the Lord, but we have our neighbour with us. So then, support him with whom you are travelling so that you may come to him with whom you long to dwell.
St Augustine, In Ev Jo 17, 7-9 (PL 35), from The Divine Office Vol. I