Greatest law is love, bishop reminds Sunday at Red Mass

When it comes to the law of God, Jesus made things very simple for his disciples, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, told the members of the legal profession who came to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria last Sunday for the Diocesan Red Mass.

Questioned by a Pharisee as to which of the 613 prescriptions of Mosaic law was the greatest, Jesus answered without hesitation, the bishop said: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul and mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On this teaching is based the whole law and the prophets.”

“Love is the one simple truth, underlying and clarifying all the many other great truths of the law of God,” Bishop Jenky said.

“All those in public service or public office, all those who serve as judges and lawyers, all priests and religious, all who serve the community, all members of the church should find the ultimate meaning of our lives in the Gospel of love,” he said.

The Red Mass is a tradition of the Catholic Church that started in the Middle Ages, said Father Stanley Deptula, director of the diocesan Office of Divine Worship, as he welcomed people to St. Mary’s Cathedral.

It is celebrated in honor of the Holy Spirit — source of wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude — and begs the Spirit’s guidance for legislators, lawyers and judges, he explained.

The name for the Mass comes from the color of the vestments worn by the celebrant and red was the predominant color seen in the altar linens and flowers flanking the ambo and altar last Sunday.

Bishop Jenky has celebrated a Red Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral every year since 2003. In that time he has broadened the focus of the Mass to include all those who serve the public, including the police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

In his greeting at the Oct. 26 liturgy, he also mentioned elected officials, appointed officials and the electorate, especially during this election year.

“The church, of course, can and has existed under every form of government,” Bishop Jenky told the assembly. “So most of all let us pray that all of us will be governed by Jesus Christ and instructed by his Gospel.”

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