The Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22: 34-40
Ez 37: 1-14 / Ps 107: 2-9

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself.
(Matthew 22: 37, 39)

Our greatest quest in life must start,
If happiness we hope to find,
In loving God with all our heart,
With all our soul, and all our mind.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, a scholar in the law, tested Jesus with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The whole Law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Reflection

Loving God and neighbor: this, in a nutshell, is what our existence in this world is all about. And it is significant to note that it was an expert in the law who asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Because love is not only the greatest of all the commandments of God, but is the very reason for all His laws. When we deliberately fail or refuse to love another, we are therefore violating the greatest law of God. “In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey His commandments” (1Jn.5:2).

Christian love is not the same as what the world understands it. Human love is primarily an emotional response to a person who is loveable or has endearing qualities. This kind of love is characterized by our freedom of choice, and the lover is not subject to any obligation. The kind of love that Christ teaches us, however, involves not merely an emotion, but a commitment of will, mind and the entire being of a person. And it is all-encompassing, and not selective. Jesus said, “If you (only) love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt.5:46-48) Perfect love liberates us from our material attachments, from our indifference and from our pride. It makes us see Christ in the faces of the suffering poor among us, making it easy to follow His second greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Love, as demonstrated by our Lord Jesus in the New Testament, is a gift freely given, never imposed, and its only law is found in the heart. It is unrestrictive, the fruit of the Holy Spirit that God gives to all of His children. And yet, ultimately, God’s love and His law are bound to each other inseparably. In John 14:15, Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The beloved disciple John himself defined love, saying: “This is love, that you walk according to His commandments” (2 Jn. 1:6). Love, therefore, is not simply a feeling of intimacy for the beloved, but a commitment to a way of life. And in the final analysis, we follow God’s law of love in our life if we are willing to commit at least a part of our life to alleviate the suffering of the poor among us. True love gives us hope to hear one day, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. . . For what you did for these least brothers of mine, you did for Me” (Mt.25:34,40).

Father God, Your beloved Son, Jesus our Savior said, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you” (Jn.15:12). We know, Lord, that it requires much discipline in order to obey this command perfectly, as we can never love as much as You and Your Son have loved us. But we believe that through Your Holy Spirit, we may be able to acquire the grace to follow Your loving ways, and so we pray. Amen.

One Response to “The Greatest Commandment”

  1. dokwayne  on August 21st, 2010

    Love is the core of every good deed. We refrain from hurting other people out of love. We refuse to commit abominable things in God’s eyes out of love. We surrender our life for other people out of love. Jesus set the superlative expression of love. He has sacrificial love. He gave up his life to give life to many.

    Nice post!