29 Oct 2017: The Greatest Commandment

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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1: Ex. 22: 20-26; Reading 2: 1 Thes. 1:5C-10; Gospel: Mt 22:34-40

The Gospel reading of today gives us one of the teachings of Jesus on love.  One of the Pharisees, who was a lawyer, asks him a question: “Teacher, which commandment in the Law is the greatest?” (Mt 22:36).  The Jews had 613 commandments which had to obeyed.  The Lawyer was asking which among them was the greatest, or how they all could be summarized into one.  The lawyer asked for one commandment.

In reply to him Jesus says that there is not only one, but there are two important commandments:

First:  Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul and with your whole mind.

Second: Love your neighbour as yourself.

These are not new commandments.  These are found in the OT.  The first is found in Dt 6:5; and the second is found in Leveticus 19:18.

What is new in the teaching of Jesus is that he says that the second commandment is “like the first,” that is, it is important like the first.  Just as the first commandment is to be taken very seriously, the second is also to be taken very seriously.  Jesus places the second commandment alongside the first.  This does not mean that the second replaces the first.  No.  There is still a first and a second.  Both are to be taken seriously.

When we look at the second commandment we see that a third commandment is implied in it.  “Love your neighbour as yourself” can be understood in two ways:

First: Love your neighbour as your love yourself.

Second: Love your neighbour as if he or she were you.  That is, see in him or her yourself and love that person.

Whether we understand it in the first or second way, both imply that “you have to love yourself.”  That is the third commandment: Love yourself.

So, the Pharisee asked for one commandment.  And in response he got three.

First: Love God with your whole self.

Second: Love your neighour as yourself.

Third: Love yourself.

What does it mean to love God?  How do we love God?  What are some of the manifestations of our love for God?

To God means:

First: Acknowledge God as “Abba” and the Master of your life.

Second: Worship, praise and thank God, that is spend time with God in prayer.

Third: Search for God’s will and carry it out in your life.  Align your will to the will of God.

Fourth: Perform simple acts of love like some offerings, mortifications, etc.

Fifth: Read and meditate on the word of God.

We can manifest our love for our neighbour in different ways:

First: Consider them as children of God and so, your brothers and sisters.

Second: Help them in whatever way you can, whenever you can.

Third: Pray for them often.

Fourth: Support and encourage them in their life’s journey.

Fifth: Offer them the gift of forgiveness if they hurt you.

We can manifest our love for ourselves in different ways:

First: Thank God for your life, which is God’s gift to you.

Second: Thank God for all the good qualities that are there in you.

Third: Appreciate yourself whenever you do something good.

Fourth: Take care of your physical and spiritual needs

Fifth: Be compassionate to yourself, be gentle with yourself.

These three commandments are different, but they are interrelated.  We cannot have one without the other.  “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20).  And Jesus says, “As often as you have done it to the least of my brethren you have done it to me” (Mt 25:40).  And it is easier for us to love ourselves because God and others love us.

Let us live our lives following the invitation of Jesus to love.

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