When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.
And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
If you had to pick out a single, easy-to-memorize mission statement for Christians, drawing from today’s Gospel would be a good bet: Love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. The only problem is that the word “love” is used so much and in so many different contexts it has lost almost all of its meaning. (For instance, I love God, I love my family, I love the New York Yankees, I love pizza…)
What might Jesus mean when he says love? He doesn’t spell it out explicitly in this passage from Matthew, but when “the Great Commandment” appears in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus follows it up with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. From that famous story, we can reverse-engineer a definition of what love means to Jesus: concrete actions of compassion, reaching out to those who are suffering.
Loving God, help us to remember what we are called to do, in the words of Thomas Merton: “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.”
—Mike Jordan Laskey, Thomas Merton quotePlease share the Good Word with your friends!