Matthew 22, 34-40
Sunday, 29th October 2023 (30 OT A)
“At that time the Pharisees, when they heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, came to Jesus, and one of them asked him to test him, ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your being. This commandment is the first and foremost. The second is like it: you shall love your neighbour as yourself”.
The disagreements between Jesus and the Pharisees continue. The Pharisees try to find a way to accuse him of anything and seek ways to bring him down. Today they are going to test him with the commandments. The teachers of the law, the scribes and Pharisees, had turned the Law of Moses, the 10 Commandments, into a tangle of precepts, rules and laws, more than 600. The most trivial aspects of daily life were regulated by some commandment: how often to wash their hands, what steps they could take on the Sabbath, what they could or could not eat… That is why they asked Jesus, faced with such an accumulation of commands: what is the main commandment of the Law? Jesus answers with what they themselves should have known: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and principal commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets”.
It may seem surprising to us that Jesus places love of neighbour on the same level as love of God: the second is like the first. Jesus is very clear that God cannot be loved only in theory, only with the heart or mind. God is loved in one’s neighbour, and to the extent that one loves one’s neighbour, one is loving God. You can only fulfil the first commandment by fulfilling the second.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for others. This is how Jesus fulfilled the will of the Father. That is how great his love for God was. Let us begin with those closest to us, with those who share our daily lives with us, and from there let this love grow and spread to everyone.
Juan Ramón Gómez Pascual, cmf
How much do you love?