What is the greatest commandment and how do we make sense of it? The Gospel passage for this week is from Matthew’s Gospel and verses 34 to 40 of chapter 22 where we have these words:
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This passage in Matthew’s Gospel suggests that the expert in the law (a Scribe or Pharisee and not a Sadducee) uses this question to test Jesus but in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 12:28-34) the tone is different and the Scribe or Pharisee seems to be on Jesus’ side in opposition to the Sadducees. Be that as it may, this passage outlines the basis of all faith. The Christian is called, above all else, to love God. Everything flows from this. Proof of our love of God will also be made manifest in how we treat God’s creation and particularly our fellow humans – who are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26,27). If we really love God, we would love who God loves – humanity. Also, if we really love God, we would love those entities who reflect what God is like – namely humans. Note, we are called to love God first. It is in only loving God first that we can fully love humans. Without God, humans may be seen as selfish and beyond improvement. That is, without God humans become un-lovable. With God, love of humanity is not only possible but it is also the second of the two greatest commandments.
Old Testament reading for this week: Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Gospel reading for this week: Matthew 22:34-46
Epistle reading for this week: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Psalm for this week: Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17