The scribe in today’s Gospel selection puts an interesting question to Jesus: Which is the 1st of the commandments? No doubt the scribe knew the many regulations in the Hebrew Scriptures, some 613 distinct commandments; the scribe was truly seeking insight and direction by asking which commandment is the greatest.
Jesus did not hesitate! He quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy our 1st reading: "…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…". He didn’t dismiss the other regulations; rather Jesus taught that they were all summed up in the one great commandment of love of God. And, Jesus then took the scribe’s request one step further: the 2nd commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself…a quote he took from the Book of Leviticus.
There’s also one serious "catch" in the statements of Jesus: a tiny, three letter word…"all" your heart…all your soul…all your mind…all your strength": a serious challenge!! Then, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves… Jesus implies a total love, giving myself completely to God — nothing left out, no holding back…as He Himself loves!
Today, Jesus challenges us to take his words to heart and love without holding back: to love God, neighbor, and self. We hear this commandment as we gather as a worshipping community this Sunday in later Ordinary Time. We are human; we proclaim our need of God’s Love and Life, and we promise to carry this selfless, Godly-Love to our sisters and brothers in our needy 21st Century world.
Let’s be grateful for our faith and fellowship this day. May Jesus look at us with love and understanding and encourage us that we are not far from the Kingdom of God.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.