Friday of the 20th Week of the Year

Matt 22:34-40

The Greatest Commandment


One time in the seminary, I transferred to a room where a potted plant was left by the previous occupant. This plant caught my attention and there was a desire in me to take care of the plant. It had very few leaves remaining, some were almost dried. In short the plant was dying. I gave the plant all the love, care and attention that I could give. I placed it near the window so that it could get enough sunlight and I started watering the plant. Within a few days, new leaves started to sprout; the plant was rejuvenated.

The commandment of love brings new life. Our love of God also finds its concrete expression in love of others. We need not do big things at the onset. We can start doing little things with love from where we are at present and let this love spread. We can perhaps learn from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who once said: “God has created us to do small things with great love. I believe that the great love that comes or should come from our heart, should start at home: with my family, my neighbors across the street, those right next door and this love should then reach everyone.” (Rev. Cyrus T. Mercado Bible Diary 2002)


In marriage the couples commit to accept one another and live with one another forever “in SICKNESS or in HEALTH, for RICHER or POORER.” They will live together in COMFORT or DIFFICULTY. It’s like picking up a coin. One picks up the whole coin with two sides. Wanting to pick up a coin only with one side is physically impossible.

This is what Jesus is telling us in the gospel today regarding the two greatest commandments. The love of God and the love of neighbor are inseparable. Commitment to one can only find meaning and truthfulness in its relation and expression in the other.

The same mechanics is also true in the whole of life itself. There is JOY. There is PAIN. However, it is always easier to accept JOY and live with it. When one refuses to accept pain as part of life the degree of suffering is doubled or even tripled. Blessed are they who can see the positive element of pain – from it comes learning, growth and strength.

What are your present JOYS? Thank the Lord for them. What are your present PAINS? Ask the Lord to help you see its helpful purpose. (fr. Ed Fugoso, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


Volumes could be written on the Great Commandment.

The development of thought about the commandment of love could be summarized in numbers. In the Old Testament the Ten Commandments (Decalogue) expressed or formulated the commandment of love: three towards God, seven towards neighbour. With the history of love and infidelity towards the covenant and its stipulations (Ten Commandments), the Jews multiplied the Ten Commandments into 613 prescriptions (legal, ritualistic, etc.). Just as a fragile object has to be wrapped well in order not to be broken, the 613 prescriptions were like wrappings around the Ten Commandments they were meant to keep the commandments from being broken. He opposite danger was legalism: the wrappings, the packaging became more important than the contents.

Jesus restored the correct perspective and united the two commandments of God and of neighbour. If one truly loves God, he/she must love people/neighbour as well. This unity of the two loves, in our days, becomes more and more distinctive of Christian love, in contradistinction to our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters. They too profess to love Yahweh/Allah but seem to disregard God’s children. (A commentary: cf. The recurring conflict between Jews and Muslims, suicide bombers and retaliations). (Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


One of Mrs Donald Lowe’s treasured possessions is a poem written by her 14-year old granddaughter Heidi after the girl had lived for three months with Mrs. Lowe and her husband. “I wrote this for you,” Heidi told her grandmother and concluded her poem with these lines:

“Love needs time

But most of all, love needs you.

For without you

There is no time or love”

Love is focused on someone not on something. Love is basically a relationship and in this relationship there is giving and receiving. People might not go around telling other people they love them, but they do express love by what they do to people around them. A person who receives a huge monthly salary, drives a top-of-the-line car, goes on vacation abroad once a year and gets almost all the things he wants will feel something lacking in his life if he does not have someone to love.

St. Paul says there are three things that last, these are faith, hope and love and the greatest is love. Why is love the greatest? Love unites, inspires and gives life. Loving someone makes you feel alive. It makes you smile, it gives you a light feeling, helps you see the light in your darkest hour. How meaningful it is to live a life spent and shared in the spirit of love! (Fr. Andy Guban, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


Behind the question of a scholar of the law regarding, “which commandment in the law is the greatest,” it is worthwhile to note that the Jewish law counts 613 commandments. 365 of which were prohibitions and 248 were positive precepts.

For practical reasons, a unifying principle had to be established, so the Prophets and the Rabbis of old searched for this unifying factor. For example, in the book of Leviticus 19:18, Rabbi Akiba said, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” is the greatest in the Law.

In today’s gospel reading Jesus, the prophet – in answer to the question of the scholar of the law – combines two texts of t5he law from the Old Testament. The first text is the heart of the Shema (Listen, O Israel) taken from Deuteronomy 6:15, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” This is the Jewish profession of faith recited everyday. The second comes from the book of Leviticus 19:18, as quoted earlier.  In the Jewish recital, these two texts were not combined. Jesus places the two on the same level. In effect he is suggesting that, the commandment to love holds together all the laws, rules and regulations that one can think of.

There are many stages of love: sensual, filial, platonic, etc. But the highest kind of love that Jesus is talking about is the agape, that selfless concern for others, as shown by Him who loved totally, giving everything in the process, to the point of dying on the cross.

What really is love? Frank Mihalic has this reflection to share: In a scene of the stage play and movie, Fiddler on the Roof, the hero Tevye on one occasion keeping nagging at his wife, Golda, asking her whether she loves him or not. He keeps wanting her to say she does, but she is in no romantic mood and brushes him off, until finally she turns to him and says, “Look at this man….I am your wife, I cook your meals, wash your clothes, milk the cows, raise half dozen daughters for you, my bed is yours, my time is yours, everything I have and am, I share with you and after all that, you want to know whether I love you? Oh, well I guess I do….”

Most grownups, the religious included, do not go around telling people they love them. But they express this love by what they do to people around them everyday. (Fr. Emmanuel de Leon, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


People speak and sing much of love. there are number of films and books about happy and unhappy love stories. Everybody in some way longs for love. And yet love seems a difficult art. A deep, reliable love is indeed a precious good.

The problem is that people often rather seek to be loved than to show and share true love. Therefore people strive to be attractive, to be beautiful and to impress. But this does not make a person a loving person. A person has real love if he or she has concern for the other; if he/she strives to make the other person grow, to make him/her happier; and to make him/her a better person. This is what Christ has in mind for the great commandment of the gospel.

The commandment first extends to God. But can we love God by having concern for Him? What can our love contribute to God’s happiness and richness? Genuine love rejoices in the goodness of the other. Therefore our love of God makes us sing His praise and glory, because He is good, rich in beauty and holy. At the same time our love for Him must also express itself in concern for His will, for the realization of His creative plan with the world and for the growth of his kingdom.

The commandment then equally extends to our neighbour. Here again love manifests itself in the acceptance and ready acknowledgment of the good qualities our neighbour possesses and the praiseworthy achievements he has accomplished. Love therefore contradicts all jealousy and envy. It is of a generous heart. Again, love of neighbour must show itself in concern for the welfare of fellowmen. Love means willing the good of the other. True love strives to make the other grow in his possibilities, to make him happy, to make him a good and better person. Love makes our hearts wide. It brings us close to God. Jesus himself is the model of that love. We are invited to imitate Him and to share in His love (Fr. Karl-Heinz Peschke, SVD Bible Diary 2013).


When I was in India, I heard this story about Mahatma Gandhi. He once boarded a train and, as the train started to move, one of his sandals fell on the track. People looked at him as he took off the other sandal and threw it as closely as possible to the first one. Someone asked him why he did it, and he answered, “Anyone who will find the first sandal can find the pair and so he can wear them.”

In a way, it has some relation to our call to love. We cannot love God without loving our neighbour, as St. John the Evangelist said, and vice versa, we cannot love our neighbour without loving God. As in Gandhi’s case, one cannot wear only on one foot and still look normal, as one needs the other sandal too.

In our gospel today, ‘love’ is indeed the most important word, but notice how many times the word ‘ALL’ has been used. God will not agree to a half-hearted situation. God wants to love Him with ALL we have and ALL we are, above all things and in all things. ALL or nothing. No one and nothing is excluded from his love. if ever we love anybody or anything else, we should love ALL only in God and only next to God.

God’s commandment is not a compulsion but a GRACE for us who believe in him. We can love God only because he has made us for love and as an overflow of his love and life. it is therefore God himself who actually draws us to His love. when we know God, we will be surprised that we cannot but love Him and find no greater joy than in doing so. And when we truly love God, as in Gandhi’s sandals, we also learn to love ALL that God loves, not only all our brothers and sisters, but also the environment that surrounds us (Fr. Carlos Lariosa SVD, Bible Diary 2015).


Matthew 22:34-40

The Summary of the Law

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And [Jesus] 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 great and foremost commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love you neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”


For the last ten weeks and more we have been examining in intricate detail every facet of the Law of God, that great Schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. Now before we leave it, we need to back away from it once again, put up our magnifying glasses, and view it once more as a unit, as a whole. After all of our minute analysis, we need someone to put it into a nutshell for us. And no one had done it better than the Lord Jesus Christ: “‘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 foremost commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love you neighbor as yourself.'”


What our Lord says here is radical: that Love is a summary of the Law. We more naturally see Love as a substitute for the Law, as something opposed to it. We can either be legalistic and self-righteous Pharisees focused on keeping a bunch of rules, or we can be loving and compassionate, focused on people. We really have a hard time seeing Love and Law together. Ever since the Reformation, we have rightly opposed the idea that you can be saved by keeping the Law. But sometimes in our zeal we have almost made it sound as if it’s better not to keep it! Unfortunately, when we cross that line (called “Antinomianism”), we have joined the modern rebellion against God’s authority. The desire to substitute Love for Law is really just one form–sometimes a very pious form–of that rebellion. Impatient with rules, we just want to love people. But tragically, such love inevitably ends up not being biblical love.

The biblical perspective on the relation of Law to Love is quite different. “If you love me,” Jesus rather inconveniently said, “you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). “By this we know that we love the children of God,” says the Beloved Disciple, “when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn. 5:2-3). And he says again, “This is love, that you walk according to His commandments” (2 Jn. 1:6). How can they say such things? Because for Jesus and for John, though not for most modern Americans, love is not primarily an emotional response (though of course it involves one), but rather a commitment to a way of life. The biblical concept of love involves not just the emotions but also the will, the body, indeed the whole person, including the mind. Therefore, God’s Law defines the way of Love, explains what loving behavior is, and therefore helps us distinguish true love from the many counterfeits that may emotionally feel very similar. By their fruits shall ye know them.


The First Table of the Law then is about how to love God. Let’s look at those commandments afresh in that light.

First, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” It is no accident that the relationship between God and his people is often compared by Scripture to marriage. In human relationships, there is a certain kind of love that one can really have for only one person at a time. For anyone else to share that same kind of love which is exclusive to those two people of necessity adulterates that relationship, which is why the physical expression of such a compromise of marriage is known as “adultery.” That is why the Old Testament often calls idolatry “spiritual adultery,” as in Jer. 3:6-8. And that is why God permits no others, no rivals in his sight. We learn from this commandment that the love we are supposed to have for God is the kind that can not be shared with any rival. For 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 foremost commandment.

Then we are to make no graven images, no images of our own devising. To be in love is to desire to know the other person intimately. One of the greatest dangers that all pre-marital (or marital) counselors deal with is the tendency to substitute a false, romantic image, made of our own wish-fulfillment dreams, for the real person. This leads to severe problems when, after the wedding, reality rudely intrudes on our fantasy. Therefore, one of the most important things you can do to nurture and protect a relationship is to be sure this doesn’t happen. In the case of our relationship with God, it means rigorously excluding from our minds all ideas about God that do not come from God himself. You cannot have a real love relationship with God if you ignore the commandment against graven images–it just isn’t possible. For 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 foremost commandment.

Next, we are not to take the Lord’s Name in vain. Well, just think of all the moonstruck lovers you have ever known. Just repeating that one name to oneself can be a form of ecstasy. “O, Romeo, Romeo . . .” And we must be sure that we get the name–and its meaning–right. “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” Juliet argues that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet because Romeo’s family makes his name problematic. But she cannot escape it. And though she may even complain about it herself, just let the Nurse besmirch it! The name of one we love is not a light or a trivial thing to us, because it stands for the beloved. So of course those who love God will not want to take his Name in vain. For 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 foremost commandment.

Finally, we are to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. A person in love wants to spend time with his beloved. Ten minutes a day on the phone or reading a letter just isn’t enough. And if there is one day a week set aside just to be with that person, with no demands from work interfering–well, that Friday or Saturday night date becomes the center of gravity for the whole week. So, if you do not protect Sunday from intrusions from workaday concerns, if you do not look forward to it–how then can you claim that you love the Lord? For 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 foremost commandment.

Jesus was right: the Great Commandment really and literally is a summary of the First Table of the Law. It tells us how to love God, and it tells us whether we love God. But it doesn’t stop there.


If then we are married to God the Father, I suppose that means we become part of his Family–which makes the Church our in-laws. According to Jesus’ designation of the Second Commandment, then, we need to know how to love them too. The second is like it: You shall love you neighbor as yourself. This summarizes the Second Table of the Law. So let’s revisit those commandments in that light.

The Second Table begins with honoring your father and mother. Well, if you can’t love the people who gave you life and took care of you when you were helpless, how are you ever going to learn to love your enemies? If we are gong to love our neighbors, we had better start with the people we live with. It means that the home is supposed to be a training ground for love, a base of operations from which that love is to be spread to the world. I know that many homes do not function this way, and that some can’t. But we must still pay attention to the design, and in so far as we can let love begin here. The second is like it: You shall love you neighbor as yourself.

All the rest of the injunctions of the Second Table are related to love in similar ways. It is quite unloving to murder your neighbor, commit adultery with his wife, steal his stuff, or bear false witness against him. Duh. But when we understand these commandments in terms of their implications, especially their positive corollaries, we see that the Second Table of the Law does in fact give us a manual for loving our neighbor that is just as profound and just as helpful as the one we have in the First Table for loving God. None of these commandments can be broken except by the absence, the defect, the misdirection, or the perversion of love. To keep their positive corollaries with respect to your neighbor–to respect, nourish, and protect his body, his property, his family, and his reputation–is to be truly loving in your behavior. “How do I know if he loves me,” the girl asks. Well, does he want to express that love in terms of sexual license? Is he willing to murder (abortion) to cover that license? Does he care about your reputation? The answer becomes pretty clear pretty quickly. Do I love my neighbor? you ask. Well, how can you claim you do if you are willing to gossip about him? The Law very efficiently distinguishes real love from self-centered emotion masquerading as love once we learn the lesson of Jesus’ summary and let it begin to work. The second is like it: You shall love you neighbor as yourself.

The last Commandment of the Ten shows that the others are more than just an outward description of loving behavior. It shows that Love must be the context and ruling motive for all. For the Tenth Commandment, against coveting, shows as we saw last week that outward conformity is not enough. Jesus’ Second Commandment then shows that Love is the inward reality of which the Law is the outward expression. The second is like it: You shall love you neighbor as yourself. Jesus summary really is the perfect summary of the Law, and in summarizing it perfectly, brings out the true nature of its demands.


For the Christian whose sins are under the Blood, who is not striving to earn salvation by keeping the Law but rather is keeping it as God enables because he has been saved by Grace, not Merit, there need be no contradiction, no conflict, between Law and Love. The Law is the expression of Love, and Love is the goal of the Law. The Christian lives by the Law because he loves God and Man, and the Law teaches him to love them better. His love impels him to live by the Law, and the Law reinforces the impulse to Love. The Law does not enable him to love (Grace does that), but it instructs him in the true ways of Love. This is the way it is designed to be.

But for the non-Christian in rebellion against God, his rebellion drives Law and Love apart. Experiencing the Law as a burden, he cannot see it as the path of Love. He tends then to try to have one or the other–but this attempt is doomed to failure, destroying both. Law without Love is Legalism. It exalts the self. It is ugly and self-righteous, and leads to death. Love without Law is Romanticism. It indulges the self. It is therefore despite its best intentions, ugly, unrestrained, and lawless, therefore destructive, and leading to death.

Sin drives Love and the Law apart. Only Jesus can put them back together again. So now you know why He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And why, in answer to the Lawyer’s question, he said, “‘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 foremost commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love you neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” And why Paul said, “God commends his Love toward us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


Here endeth the lesson.

Dr. Donald T. Williams

Updated 03/16/2003



INSEPARABLE LOVE (Mt 22:37): the mark of a good Jewish teacher is his ability to summarize the 603 precepts of the Jewish religion as briefly as possible. Therefore, some Jewish teachers have summarized the 603 precepts into two: love of God and love of neighbour. There is nothing special in this. The Lord was not the first to summarize the law. But what is peculiar and unique to the Lord is He was the first teacher in Jewish religion to present the love of God as only one facet of the love for neighbour and to present the love of neighbour as only the other face of the love of God. Jesus is the first teacher to say that the other one cannot be separated from the other. This is also the essence of our Christian faith. Love of God and love of neighbour.

I know that it is not difficult for us to love God. Our difficulty comes when dryness and problems arise, then it becomes more difficult to pray. Herein lies the question. For many of us it is not really difficult to love our brothers and sisters under normal situations. But when the brother or sister hurts us, disappoints us, does not meet our expectations or is ungrateful, thoughtless or tactless, then it becomes difficult for us to love them as our neighbour.

The Lord did not tell us to love our neighbour only when they are popular, beautiful and young. The Lord only told us, “You must love your neighbour.” This means that we do so even when they are sick or have become a burden or are problematic. Do we have this kind of love? The Eucharist we celebrate this afternoon is not only merely a celebration of our love for God. let it also be a celebration of our endless love for one another. (Socrates Villegas, Jesus in my Heart, p. 92)


v.49: “I saw you under the fig tree.” When we think no one notices us, Jesus is reminding us today: “I see you.” He is interested with us, our activities, concerns, preoccupations. What will he see in us today? We also need to get interested with others. Let us be reminders of God’s love for them (Fr. Ching OP).


Friday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time (Year C) – Mateo 22:34-40. Unsa man nga matang sa gugma ang buot ipasunod kanato ni Jesus? Gitawag kining klase sa gugma og “agape” – gugma nga walay bayad, walay kondisyon, walay pagpihig, ug walay kinutoban. Ang pinakataas nga pagpadayag ning maong gugma nahitabo didto sa krus diin gihalad ni Jesus ang iyang tibuok kinabuhi para sa kapasayloan sa sala sa katawhan. Ang ebanghelyo karon nagdasig kanato sa paghigugma sa paagi nga sama sa gipakita ni Jesus. Magkat-on kita sa pagkalimot sa atong personal nga interes aron nga mabulahan ang uban. Motabang kita sa mga naglisod sa walay paghunahuna nga balosan. Ug magpadayon kita sa pag-alagad bisan kita masakitan sa atong gialagaran. Kini mao ang gugma nga matuod ug Kristohanon. (Fr. Abet Uy)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

FRIDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) – MATEO 22:34-40. UNSA MAY GIPASABOT SA SUGO, “HIGUGMAA ANG DIOS SA TIBUOK MONG KALAG, KASINGKASING, UG HUNAHUNA? Ang atong paghigugma sa Dios kinahanglan tininuod ug todo-todo, dili medya-medya. Dili maayo nga higugmaon nato siya sa pulong lamang, dili sa buhat. Dili sakto nga higugmaon nato siya sa sulod sa simbahan lamang, dili na sa gawas. Ug dili usab angayan nga higugmaon lamang nato siya sa adlaw’ng Domingo, dili sa Lunes kutob Sabado. Kon gihigugma nato ang Dios sa tinuoray, ato usab nga higugmaon ang tanan nga iyang gibuhat sama sa kinaiyahan, mga moral nga balaod, ug labaw sa tanan, mga tawo nga gihimo niya sa Iyang hulagway ug kasamahan. Adunay nindot nga pahinumdum nga nagkanayon: “Jesus didn’t save us halfway. We shouldn’t serve him halfway.” Posted by Abet Uy


THE ORDER OF LOVE – Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”– Matthew 22:37-39

Growing up, I always thought that the proper order of life is this: Love God. Then love others. And only then, can you love yourself. For some reason, I thought that I should put myself last just because not doing so means that I’m being selfish. But looking at this passage again, I realized that the correct order of life should be this: Love for God is first and foremost. Loving God simply allows me to tap into a limitless source of grace. This in turn fuels me to give more love continuously — without running out of it.

Love for self is crucial. Loving myself allows me to set a high standard on how I live life. The more love I experience, the happier I am. The happier I am, the better life I will lead.

Love for others is the goal in life. Loving others allows me to become a flowing river of life. I become a channel of God’s love to the people and the world around me — bringing God’s love wherever I go. Orange V. Garcia (

Reflection: Have you loved yourself lately? Why don’t you declare a “me” day? Follow this formula: Pray — spend time with God alone. Eat — treat yourself to your favorite food. Love — do something special for someone else. Then slowly expand this “me” day to “every” day.

Lord, teach me to love myself so I can be more loving to others.


1ST READING – God can bring life out of any situation. If we do not believe this, then we have to rethink our notion of the power of God, because it is true. Ezekiel reminds the people that they have come, a few hundred years ago, from a place of death, namely slavery in Egypt, but God gave them a new life in the Promised Land. They know the power of God at work in their lives as a nation. Ezekiel 37:1-14

GOSPEL – All the moral laws of Christianity stem from the double commandment of love — love God and love your neighbor. It is helpful that we perceive our duty in the first instance as a call to love and not as a duty to serve. This love instructs our duties to the point that whatever we do ought to be motivated by love first and foremost. Christianity is nothing without these foundational commandments of love. Matthew 22:34-40

think:  God can bring life out of any situation.



THE GREATEST LAW OF ALL – The law that encompasses all others is the command of love. We are called to love God and each other without exception. We are often particular in our love of others, choosing to love most people and refusing to love a few. This is not acceptable to the Christian way of life. The law of love that Jesus commands is that we should love everyone, including our enemies. This is what sets Christianity apart from other religions. The universality of the command to love means that we have a very sophisticated understanding of the idea of forgiveness, something that is deficient and even absent from other religions and ways of life.

As we celebrate the Queenship of Mary today, in honor of her love for us as our Mother, the Mother of the Church, our Queen, let us resolve to love others with a greater commitment than before. Let us stretch ourselves in love so that we will be obedient to love even our enemies, as hard as that is in reality. I am sure that Mary will be most pleased if we make any effort to fulfill this law.

Jesus is right when He answers that the commandments rest on the dual command of love: love of God and love of neighbor. It is good to reflect on how this is, as it can inspire us to give greater effort along these lines. If we understand that love is at the heart of everything we do, we will realize that the expressions of love, from the smallest to the greatest, are what will ultimately matter to us as individuals and as part of the human family. There is nothing more important or powerful in propagating peace than choosing to love our enemies. If we seek revenge, then the conflict is perpetuated indefinitely; if one party chooses the way of forgiveness, the resolution of the issue is close at hand.

Let us be the first to seek love as the primary focus of our relationships. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTION: Is there anyone in your life that you need to forgive? Do it now.

Holy Spirit, without Your help I will not be able to love and forgive those who have wronged me. Help me to overcome any desire for revenge and to choose love and forgiveness every time.


THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT – “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?” Wasn’t it a strange question that the scholar of the law asked Jesus? I think not. The original Ten Commandments had multiplied and eventually the Pharisees counted over 300 commandments of the law. These 300 commandments were the source of constant discussion — what is allowed and not allowed by each of them. As a result, the Jews literally came up with thousands of rules and regulations that were meant to direct the behavior of pious Jews.

And so it was natural to ask which of the laws and rules was the most important. Was the lawyer serious or was he just trying to trick Jesus? We will never know. But it does not matter what the intention of the lawyer was. More important is the answer of Jesus. With marvelous ease, Jesus brings in downright simplicity into the mess of laws and regulations that cluttered up Jewish theology. He reduces all the laws to two commandments: “Love God” and “Love thy neighbor.”

Jesus makes the two commandments one: two sides of a single coin. He makes it clear that we cannot separate one from the other. And this one most basic commandment that sums up all the rest is expressed in the word “love.” Love, therefore, is at the heart of Christianity. Love does not address rules and commandments. It invades life in the presence of, and as a response to, persons. The motivation of Christian behavior, therefore, is not a law that one fears to break, but a person who is personified love (God) and the person to be loved (our neighbor).

Out of love for the Father and out of love for sinful men and women, the Son of God entered into our world to begin the work of salvation. The vertical and horizontal beams of the Cross remind us of the inseparable love for God and neighbor.

May our love of the Father and of the neighbor motivate all our thoughts and actions and so make us more Christ-like.Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you aware that you cannot love God as long as you do not love your fellowmen?

Lord, forgive me for my limited love for my fellowmen. Make me remember every time I see a cross that my love for You is nothing if I do not love those around me. Amen.


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Friday of the 20th Week of the Year

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