The Greatest Commandment

Gospel Mark 12:28–34 

After God gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai, Israel began to consider itself as the depository of wisdom and intelligence. It acknowledged that other peoples were more powerful, richer and more numerous, but it felt far superior to all of them. Why? Because they said – No nation knew the way of life. Up to now, every devout Jew thanks the Lord in the morning prayer, which is – “blessed are You Lord who chose us among the nations and gave us Your law.”

The reading of today begins with an exhortation to “fear Yahweh”. It may sound like an invitation to be “afraid” of God but it is not so. The fear of the divine world is preached by other religions but has nothing to do with the biblical message: which is always a message of joy, hope and salvation for every human being. “To fear God” does not mean to be “afraid of god,” it means to place oneself in His presence in an attitude of total self-giving and trust and of acceptance of His will. “Fright” has no place here; such an emotion in the presence of the Divine may be preached by other religion, not ours.

To summarize the second reading in four lines – There is only one high priest who interceded for us and saved us. Jesus Christ who offered Himself unto death for the life of many – you and me included. Paul presents Jesus as our brother and model.

There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family bible to her brother in another part of the country. ‘Is there anything breakable in here?’ asked the postal clerk? ‘Only the “ten commandments” answered the lady.’

There are rules we must follow in the game of life. Look, I have the rule book right here, the bible is the rule book we must follow in life. To really enjoy life the way God intended, it is important to follow His rules.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day liked to sit around and discuss the law. They would sometimes ask Jesus questions about the law to try to trick Him into saying something that would cause people to turn against Him. One day they were questioning Jesus and He answered them with one good answer right after another. A Jewish teacher of the law came in and heard that Jesus was giving good answers and he asked Him “of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus answered him— The most important one is this, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is, love your neighbour as yourself.

Some might say – how can I, a simple and an insignificant man, love the infinite God? And would I not lose courage when I hear that I have to love my neighbour as myself? There is nothing which is so certain, so clear and so important, as the commandment of love. Each one of us is called to do so.

Both, the Old Testament and the New Testament stress love as the essence and fundamental principle of our life. And Jesus includes it in his answer to the scribe – you are not far away from the Kingdom of God. That means, all the laws of the old and new testaments are telescoped into one – seek above all, the Kingdom of God. And that through love.

Today’s gospel teaches us 5 lessons:

  • God loves us and we have to love Him, this is His commandment.
  • The greatest, nay, the only commandment is love.
  • Love of God without the love of one’s neighbour is impossible.
  • Our love must be concrete as Jesus’ was.
  • Our community must be founded on love, a visible sign of God’s love.

The commandment of love flows from the energizing, dynamic love of God for us. It enables us to love. Hence, love of God is possible, so, too, love of one’s neighbor.

The Eucharist is the highest expression of God’s love for man – sharing the body and blood we become one with God and one another.  Therein, we have the pledge of eternal life.

In the Name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.