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Matthew 22:34-40

The Word of God

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 neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Matthew 22:34-40
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    • The fact that Jesus, almost in the same breath, says we are to love God and love our neighbour means that one love is not greater than the other. They are interdependent. By loving God, we love our neighbour. By loving our neighbour, we love God.
    • When the Dalai Lama was asked to comment on the instruction “love your neighbour as yourself”, he commented “poor neighbour!” We too often forget the modifying phrase in Jesus’ instruction. Lord, help me to be merciful to myself so that I can be merciful to others. Help me to love myself as much as you love me!
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    • Not only are these two commandments similar they are complementary and inseparable. In other words, it is not possible to love God and not love the neighbour and vice versa.
    • Jesus is saying that as long as one is truly loving God and the neighbour, the rest of the Law will take care of itself. And there may even be times when such love will transcend and override the requirements of some laws. No truly loving act can ever be sinful. In this time of prayer, what does loving myself mean today? What does loving my neighbour mean today?
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    • The greatest and first commandment is challenging. Do I really believe in God and love God? God’s love shines on me like the sun shines on earth. Nothing I do could make God love me more. In this continual relationship with the mystery of God’s love, I know my doubts. I can only say “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
    • The second commandment is easier to grasp and harder to follow: Love your neighbour as yourself. God is visible through my neighbour. I can ponder on my love for others, those close to me. And I ponder on my attitude towards every stranger around the world who is my sister and brother. I pray for them. What are my actions on behalf of “my neighbour?”
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    • There were more than six hundred commandments in the Jewish Law and it was often asked which of these had priority over the others. In answering the question Jesus gives not one but two commandments:- love your God with your whole heart and soul; and love your neighbour as yourself. Both answers are taken from the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18 respectively).
    • We know that Jesus gives his own interpretation to these two commandments. In his view, the two commandments are inseparable. We cannot love God and then refuse to love our neighbour. Jesus extends the meaning of ‘neighbour’ to include every single person and not just the people of one’s own race, religion or family.
    • God’s standard of love is the love of Jesus who died for us. “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
    • While Jesus praises the lawyer, the man has to make the crucial step of committing himself to follow Jesus.
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