Witnessing to God’s love on earth means showing one’s love for one’s neighbor, as Jesus said, “And a second [commandment] is like it [the first and greatest commandment to love God] – You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39). You cannot love God without loving your neighbor, and vice versa. It is the face of God that we see in the needy, suffering neighbor who begs for a helping hand. “In the face of each brother [and sister] especially of the smallest, the most fragile, the defenseless and needy, there is God’s own image” (Pope Francis, Angelus Message, 26 October 2014). So the face of our neighbor and of God become one. There is only one face of God reflected in the faces of our brothers and sisters. In serving our neighbor, we serve the God whom we cannot see as He is in himself.
Jesus called attention to the right relationships to one’s neighbor as stipulated in the Book of Exodus [the covenant code], stemming from one’s duties to God (Ex 21-24). Jesus brought the covenant code to fulfillment as a mystery, a law of love. He summed up the whole Law in Love. “On these two commandments the whole law is based, and the prophets as well” (Mt 22: 40). At the end of our life, we shall be judged according to our faithfulness to the Law of Love. Jesus identifies himself with the least of our brothers and sisters: “Whenever you did it to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
In this light, we can no longer separate a pious life from service to the brothers and sisters that we encounter. “We can no longer divide prayer, the encounter with God in the Sacraments, from listening to the other, closeness to his life, especially to his wounds. Remember this: love is the measure of faith” (Ibid, Pope Francis). How can we express our faith in love, growing in our love of God and neighbor? As we continue the ascent to the mountain of the to be with the Church Triumphant who see God face to face, we struggle along our earthly journey while we render selfless service to our neighbor. “Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in his holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain, they will receive blessings from the Lord. Such are the people who seek him, seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Ps 24: 3-6).