When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, you God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
The question of what is the greatest for the Lord is a question that everyone can ask. People question what to do to gain everlasting life and what to do to please the Lord. The question may really be a sincere question coming from innocent people but in our gospel, it was with malice. The intention of the query was only to test Jesus how knowledgeable he is about the Scriptures.
In our gospel reading, one of the scholars of the law dared to test Jesus; he asked him what he thinks is the greatest commandment of all.
Jesus gave him a clear answer: the greatest among many things that man could do is to love. To love God wholly and totally (with one’s heart soul, and mind) and to love one’s neighbor are the greatest commandments of all. These two are inseparable. One cannot say “I love God” but hates his/ her neighbor or has nothing to do with his/ her neighbor. Because God is love and that is why we are able to love. What pleases the Lord and what makes one worthy of the Lord’s saving grace. From God’s love, mercy and compassion follow.
But loving God and loving one’s neighbor are vague concepts unless concretized, let us then make our love real so we may share real love with those who need it.
To love is to serve. To serve lovingly our brothers and sisters, especially those who are in need in our midst. By serving others one expresses his/ her authentic love to God. There are a lot of ways of showing our love for God and others, we don’t need to go out and look outside us.
In our family, how do we show our love and share the joy of love? How do we show our care and concern to our parents, siblings, partners (wives and husbands), and friends? How do we relate with strangers? And do you treat your household help humanely and justly? Do we respect them, too? Do we understand them well? Loving them is serving them.
When we make everyone happy and content with who they are and what they have and what they can—that is love. Loving is accepting who you are and who other people are. Loving is serving our family with full dedication and joy, without complaints and regrets.
Loving God is abstract unless it leads us to serve our community and others. Our community may mean our neighborhood community or our parish community, or our group or club community. Are we good neighbors? How do we share our time, talents, and treasures with our community? How are we involved in building our community? Are we active members in our community or just a spectator on what is going on?
Loving is also a call to fidelity, becoming faithful to your one true love who is God. You can only love the “One” who is love. And because of the love of God to us which is actually the first one to love us, that is why we are able to love.
Fidelity to God means being faithful to His will, doing His holy will in love. When someone does he/ she thinks good without the right motivation, he/ she will not endure. But if someone does things out of love, then he/ she will glow and last. The main enemy of love is narcissism. When someone is so engrossed with himself/ herself, his/ her ego becomes the center of his/ her life. Then he/ she can no longer see others and God.
Narcissism is the love of self, and that destroys the concept of love. For the love of self traps and cages the person by himself/ herself. He/ she is not willing to let go as he/ she likes to control people and even God. Self-centered and self-righteous people need God and others. One has to love God and others (neighbors), only then that he/ she can love himself/ herself.
Without love, there is no reason for us to live. Without love, there is no purpose for us to go on.
Our love of God and love of neighbor are the greatest of all, no other.
Let us pray, reflect and ask ourselves:
Do I love the Lord above all things?
How do I manifest and express my love of God?
Have I shown the love of God with my neighbor?
How do I concretize my love of neighbor?
Almighty and Loving God, we thank you for loving us so dearly and you allow us and make us love. We learn to enjoy the love given us and realize that in everything we do, we must do it with love and in love. May we become living flames of your divine love so we may share that holy love with the people we meet day by day and to the people who need love in their lives. May our loving you be concretely manifested in our loving of our brothers and sisters. This we ask through Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Let us pray for those who are unloved, those who have not experienced love at home and in the community, those who refused to love—that may realize God’s love be their hope and salvation.