Matthew 22:34-46 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus 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 neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: "What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He said to them, "How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, `The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”' If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Reflection Let me just say this, “I do not know how to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind, and, I don’t know how to love my neighbor as myself.” Furthermore, I am not even sure how to know if I Iove God… how can I be sure? The good news is some nine hundred years ago St. Bernard of Clairveaux wrestled with the same questions.
In his treatise “On Loving God” Bernard advises that love is one of four basic instincts; love, joy, fear and sorrow, with love being primary. These instincts compel our action and are intended to move us toward God. An important way we individuals are drawn toward God is in our shared experience of humanity with our neighbors… our neighbor is as our self which leads us to the part about loving our neighbor as ourself. Bernard would argue that when there is conflict between our preferences and the needs of our neighbor, we are called to provide first for our neighbor… “love your neighbor as yourself.”
By the very act of loving our neighbor we are loving ourselves and in so doing we experience God’s love kindled within us which is actually the original instinct for love that gives us the capacity to love and care for our neighbors and ourselves. This revolution of love is an effusion of affection, respect and care that bands together what once appeared to be separate. Loving the many is loving the One. Loving the One is loving the many.
The original spark or instinct to love is seeded in our heart and our soul and our mind by God’s love of us, each one and all of us. This is love intended to return to its source through the agency of loving one another. The only way I can be sure I am loving God with all my heart, soul and mind is when I am putting the needs of my neighbor ahead of my preferences. Help me Jesus! Please show me the way to help my neighbors in South Sudan. (Please double click on the image in upper right corner to learn more)
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