Categories: Pastor's Desk

In the Gospels, Jesus constantly challenges us to see the bigger picture: to look beyond ourselves, and pay attention to those in need around us. Today’s Gospel is no different. When Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment, he begins as most of the Jewish Leaders would expect: by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4, which devout Jews recite daily as part of their prayers. This passage is a reminder that there is one God, and that we are to love God with our whole being.

Jesus could have stopped there, and the scribe would have been satisfied. However, Jesus continues by saying that there is a second commandment which is like the first: to love your neighbour as yourself. By placing these two commandments on the same level, Jesus shows us how love of God and love of our neighbour are connected. He also reminds us of the communal dimension of our faith, and of the responsibility that we have to show care and concern for others.

The gospel mandate to love our neighbour has been especially important during these last 18 months, as we have navigated the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also what has motivated Bishop Fabbro, along with the leadership of the Diocese of London, to ask all clergy, staff, and volunteers throughout the Diocese to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Pope Francis and Bishop Fabbro have both stated that being vaccinated is an act of love, since it ensures that those who are vulnerable among us are protected from the worst effects of the COVID-19 virus. Pope Francis has also stated that “the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one’s own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good.” In short: vaccination is “love of neighbour” in action.

I want to be clear that this policy does not apply to people who are attending Mass, or other celebrations of the Sacraments. It only applies to clergy, staff, and volunteers. The policy is also temporary. Once the pandemic has ended, the policy will be revoked. We continue to pray for the end of the pandemic, and we ask God to continue to guide the doctors, nurses, and all other healthcare workers who continue to work tirelessly to bring an end to the pandemic.

Fr. Steven Huber, CSB