If we believe that love is “more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mk. 12:33), than we all need to ponder, how well do we love? We are commanded to love by God. Do we love Him only when times are good and our needs are fulfilled? Or do we extend ourselves to show steadfast love to God when the trials and challenges surface? We can love Him because He first loved us, and He will be faithful to His promise to be with us always. As God’s love for us will never fail, so too our love for Him should be our gift, evidenced by our lives. This evidence is seen by translating love for God into loving neighbour as ourselves. It is easy to love anyone who makes us happy, shows us support, and whose presence in the relationship yields joy. However, the real essence of love is choosing to love those who cause anger, hurt or who make the relationship difficult to embrace. Our paradigm is Christ loving His persecutors and sinners, so He went to the cross. This love for others stems from love of self. Since I cannot give what I do not have, then I can only love others when I love myself. Love is a gift of the Spirit, which is exercised when we accept God’s grace. Loving Father, teach me to love You with all that I am. By accepting the love You shower on me, may Your grace and mercy help me to authentically love myself, and be empowered to love others. Amen.