Focus on Faith
Nov. 7, 2017 at 4:21 p.m.
The Jews, in Matthew 22:34-46, asked another question to test Jesus; "Which commandment in the law is the greatest?" (v. 36). He answered, "you shall love the Lord your God with all your hear and with all your soul, and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself" (v. 37-39). This summary of the law is also found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (v. 40). Is there one duty, greater than any other that should claim our lives? What is the greatest commandment? Although their motives were poor, the question of the Pharisees was a good one. Their question implies yet another. Is there a highest value from which all realities and actions derive true worth?
Any effort to write a prefect formula for living and prescribe an absolute style for loving is absurd. Filled with ethical demand, the great commandment is more, much more, than an absolute. Our desire for absolute, like that of the Pharisees will never be realized.
The God that Christ reveals is a living God. The God to whom we pray saying, "Our Father," is not some impersonal cosmic force or first cause that we recognize and define. Christ is not abstract truth or manifest beauty. Christian love is not just moral goodness. God is not the supreme mystery we come to know and understand through secret stories and teachings of initiation. The God revealed by Jesus Christ is God who lives; a God who is more than person not less; a God who loves and desires first of all to be loved with whole heart, whole soul, and whole mind.
Can we make that real? We are to love God with a whole heart means to desire him over any other possession or any other person. Loving God with our soul means to adore him with devotion and abandon. Loving God with one's whole mind means to think of him constantly, deeply seriously.
How does one show love to neighbors? A rabbi was challenged to explain the whole law of Judaism while balancing on one foot. The wise and gentle Hillel responded, "Thou shall love they neighbor as theyself". We may show our love by giving to them, giving the things they need that we possess. By doing for them, helping them and promoting their welfare in every way possible. By suffering with them; sharing their burdens and doing all in our power to lift the heaviness that weights them down.