The Holy Gospel according to Matthew (22:34-40)When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Reflection: At the time of Jesus, there were over 600 Mosaic laws. We do not know which of those laws the Sadducees where discussing when Jesus silenced them. Once the Pharisees saw that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees decided to test Jesus. They sent a scholar of the law to ask Jesus, of all the commandments, which commandment was the greatest. Jesus goes back to the Book of Deuteronomy (6:4-5) of the Old Testament, to answer the question. Jesus said love of God and love of neighbor are the two greatest of the commandments. All the other commandments depend on these two commandments. When you think of the 10 commandments, the first 3 are about our relationship with God, and the last 7 are about our relationship with our neighbors. This goes back to these 2 commandments, love of God, then love of neighbor.
My brothers and sisters, I think our Lord Jesus is telling us our love for God should be first and foremost in our lives. We are to take our love of God into account before we make important decisions and act on them. Then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Of these 2 commandments, I believe love of God is easier for us than love for our neighbor. God has never hurt or harmed us. God only loves us. Our neighbor may be someone who has harmed, insulted or hurt us in some way, shape or form. Our neighbor may be someone who is “different” than us. They may be living a different lifestyle than us. It is hard for us to like them because of these differences. But God loves them anyway, just as he loves us. We are also called to love them. We are called to love any person we encounter, the ones we like and the ones we do not like. This scripture quote from 1John 4:20 tells us why we are to love God and love our neighbor. “If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar…”
Action for the day: As we go about our day, we should try to keep these two commandments in our mind and heart. We should make the effort to love each and every person you encounter, no matter how you feel about them. You never know. We may encounter an individual who is trying to love us.