You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second if like it: you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets. Matthew 22:37-40
O God, whose Son has taught us that love is the fulfilment of your law: stir up within us the fire of your Holy Spirit, and pour into our hearts your greatest gift of love, so that we may love you with our whole being, and our neighbours as ourselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
- Deut 34:1-12
- Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
- 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13
- Matthew 22:34-46
- Next week:
- Joshua 3:7-17
- Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
- 1 Thessalonians 3:5-13
- Matthew 23:1-12
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 22 – Matthew 22:34-46
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? 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 neighbour as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. “
In this Sunday’s Gospel, as in last Sunday’s, the Jewish leaders seek to trip Jesus up. The question the lawyer poses was much discussed in rabbinical circles: Which is the greatest commandment? The Pharisees’ intention in posing the question was to force Jesus into a single rabbinical school, thereby opening him up to criticism from all other sides. Jesus’ answer, however, proves his fidelity to both the Jewish tradition and to a spirituality that transcends the legal interpretations of the commandments: the “second” commandment is the manifestation of the first. If we love the Lord God with our whole being, that love will manifest itself in our feeding of the hungry, our sheltering of the homeless and our liberating the oppressed.
Jesus’ “command” to love our neighbour means seeing one another as we see ourselves: realising that our hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families are the same dreams others have for themselves and their families.
Every one of us, at one time or other, is an alien, outsider, foreigner and stranger. The commandment to “love your neighbour as yourself” is not confined to our “own” people or to a list of specific situations but should affect every relationship we have and every decision we make.
As our society becomes more and more diverse, as science continues to make once unimaginable advances in all forms of technology, the ethical and moral questions we face become more complicated, difficult and challenging. The “great commandment” gives us the starting point for dealing with such issues: to love as God loves us – without limit, without condition, without counting the cost, completely and selflessly.
In our “e-connected” existence, the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are especially challenging: to love with our whole heart and soul and mind requires us to “unplug” and be present to one another, to engage one another as our loving God is engaged with us, to seek not just images and perceptions of compassion but behold compassion and experience love in one another.
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