Deut 6:2-6; Heb 7:23-28; Mark 12-28-34
There is a Bible scholar who said: “The message of the Scripture from the first page to the very last is love.” Indeed, my dear friends, love is the main message of Christianity, others are just commentaries. Apart from it, no religious practices, teachings and rituals which are pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. Hence, the perfection of the Christian life consists principally and essentially in charity. It is the foundation, center and the summit of Christian life.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength…you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself,” (Mk 12:30-31). This is the words of Jesus when one of the scribes asked Him which is the first of all commandments since in Israel in Jesus’ time, the scholars of the Law could extract 613 commandments from Scriptures: 365 prohibitions – the number of days in a year and 248 positive precepts, the number of the bones in the human body (or so they thought), symbol of a person’s structure. It is not easy to classify the laws according to importance or to pinpoint the fundamental laws. The core of the law seems to be the Ten Commandments. Psalm 15 list eleven laws as requisites for joining the cult in the Jerusalem temple. Isaiah indicates six fundamental laws (33:15), Micah, three (6:8) and Amos, two (5:4).
Jesus refers to two Biblical passages and joins them to form two faces of one supreme commandment of love. These are like the two beams that make up a cross. One points upward and one points sideward. For Jesus, these two dimensions together constitute what it means to be an authentic Christian. The first is the famous Shema (Deut 6:4-5) as it is read in our first reading which invites Israel to a joyful union with and total love of God. This is the vertical dimension of the commandment of love.
But the problem is, there are people who overstress the love of God. They want to shut other people out of their lives; they want to live for God alone and spend their day praying. They say that people only disturb them and keep them away from God. If you ask them to help you to do something, they say: “”I’ll pray for you.” This kind of thinking is wrong. It is selfishness.
The second, from the Book of Leviticus, invites a person to love his neighbor as himself (19:18). This is the horizontal dimension of the commandment. But, just like the commandment of loving God, there are also people who do just the opposite. They are totally involved in helping people: the sick, the rascals, the poor, the drug addict, the people with problems and et cetera. They work all day and half the night. They are so busy that they have no time to pray. They say: “My work is my prayer.”
But that is only a half-truth. We cannot do God’s work without God! Jesus in today’s gospel said to us clearly: “Love God and love your neighbor.” One saint put this new commandment in this way: “”We should fold our hands in prayer in church and then we should open our hands to others outside of the church.” We cannot love without loving people. We cannot love people without loving God.
How can we apply this new commandment of love into our lives: There is a chapter in the book entitled Loving Each Other – The Challenge of Human Relationships authored by Leo Buscaglia that lists suggestions from the participants in the survey on how to make relationships work since love is a kind of relationship too. Fr. Joseph Galdon, SJ called these suggestions the Ten Commandments of Love. Here are the lists to help us in our love relationships.
- Take your time. A love relationship is not built overnight and so be patient and take your time.
- Don’t smother each other. Give them space too and allow them to move and don’t let them feel that they are required to spend every waking hour with you.
- Don’t brood. Stop self-pity, self-blaming and the mea-culpa syndrome. It is because we are not as bad as we think.
- Exercise feelings. Feelings have meaning only as they are expressed in action.
- Forming a relationship takes a lot of looking. But looking can be fun. Grow up together constantly.
- Don’t be afraid. Stop all worry. Most of what you are worried about you’ll have difficulty remembering a week later.
- Learn to listen. You don’t learn anything from hearing yourself talk. See all criticism as positive. Anyway, you are always free to reject it if it is unfair or does not apply.
- Don’t lose touch with the craziness in you. Keep the child in you alive and playing. Keep laughing. It exercises your heart and protects you from cardiac problems.
- Don’t be afraid or disagreements and arguments. The only people who do not argue are people who don’t care or are dead. After an argument is over, forget it. Learn to bend. Don’t hold to anger, hurt and pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.
- Stop playing games. Relationships are not sporting events. Stop wrestling for control.
To end, one very popular song sang in church has this refrain: “Did you fill the world with love, did you fill the world with love, did you fill the world with love your whole life through?”
If your answer is yes, blessed are you and be sure you have been blessing to others.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B