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In last week’s Gospel some opponents tried to take Jesus down with a question, “Is it lawful to pay the temple tax to Caesar or not?” Today they try again, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” They were attempting to question his wisdom with regard to scripture, but Jesus is the fulfillment of scripture and he will not be outdone.
Jesus repeats the monotheistic creed of Israel found in the great Shema (Deuteronomy 6:5) known by every faithful Jews that the love of God above all things is the first commandment, “You shall love the Lord, our God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Then he adds the second most important commandment, which, he says, is like the first, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This was from Leviticus 19:18.
Why is the second commandment like the first? Because a person who loves God and wills evil for God’s creation is a contradiction in terms.
Love wills only good for the other person. And a person who wills good for the other person, made in God’s image, also loves God. They cannot be separated. Our First Reading, taken from Exodus, helps us to define our neighbor: the foreigner, widows, orphans, and the poor, to name a few.
Jesus has command of scripture and so must we. For to give our hearts to God and to work for the good of God’s people is at the heart of it.
Have a blessed week everyone. Continue to pray for peace where it is not yet found.