There's no way to avoid it. This Sunday, our Gospel reading proclaims the Greatest Commandment, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind," followed by a second commandment which is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." This is the compass by which Christians navigate our spiritual journeys. This Sunday we are invited to reflect on this way of love.
Interestingly, biblical commentaries haven't been too helpful this week. There isn't much to note besides the Jewish origins (no surprise, since Jesus was a devout Jew!) of these two ethical positions. The first is taken from the Shema (Deut. 6:4-5), the verse that is recited by Jews to this day before worship. The second is from the Holiness Code of Leviticus (Lev. 19:18). Jesus may have been the first to tie these two commands together and privilege their importance among the 613 mandates of the Torah.
This gospel is a gem. It is good news, indeed: it reminds us with the clarity that only divine commandments can that living out our call to love is simplyall that God desires of us. Oh God, if only this simple call were easy!
What keeps us from loving God? What holds us back from loving neighbor?
The Rev. Colin Mathewson