The Great Commandment
Love God, Love Others
“Love God with all...”
After a scribe heard how well Jesus argued with the Sadducees, he approached Jesus with a question: “What commandment is the most important and guides our understanding of all the others?”
“The first is this,” Jesus answered, “‘Listen, Israel! Our God is God, the only God! You must love the Lord our God with all your heart, your spirit, your mind, and your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You must love everyone else like yourself.’ No other commandments are greater than these.”
“Well done, Teacher!” the scribe responded. “You’re right when you said: ‘He is the only God and there is no other god besides him,’ ‘Love the God with everything you have,’ and, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ Obeying these commandments is worth far more than all the worship in the Temple at Jerusalem!”
Jesus saw the scribe answered wisely. So Jesus replied, “You’re not far from God’s Kingdom.”
Based on Mark 12:28-34
Have you ever noticed some rules are more important than others? After all, “Don’t bring a knife to school” is really more important than “Don’t whisper in class.” Both are good rules. One is just more important than the other.
How do we know one rule is more important that the other? What rule guides the other rules? A scribe once asked Jesus that question. The Lord’s answer was simple. First, love God. Then, love others.
How do we love God? By putting him first in our lives. We are to show him that we trust him more than anyone else in many ways. With our private prayers and our public worship. By keeping our promises to him. By showing respect for him and his name. And by taking an active part in Mass and resting on his day, Sunday.
But we are not to stop there. Jesus told us to respect others.
“Love your neighbor...”
Jesus told a parable to those people who thought they were the only ones pleasing God and who hated everyone else.
Once, a Pharisee and a tax collector went up to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee stood out in front of everyone. “Thank you, God,” the Pharisee prayed silently. “I’m not like other people who are liars, sinners, and cheaters, like the tax collector over there. I usually fast twice a week in your name. And I usually give money to charities from everything I earn.”
But the tax collector stood alone and stared at the floor. He looked like he was very sorry for what he did. “God, have mercy on me. I’m a sinner,” he said over and over.
I tell you the tax collector went home at peace with God, not the Pharisee. For, the proud will be humbled. But the humble will receive great honor.
Based on Luke 18:9-14
Obviously the Pharisee in the story thought he was more important than the tax collector. And, obviously, that is not respect. So how do we show others respect?
We show respect in many different ways. By helping others, especially our parents and other who care for us. By honoring life, especially that of the unborn, the helpless, and the elderly. By protecting others, their talents, their bodies, and their property. By telling the truth and speaking in ways that do nor hurt the feelings of others. By using self-control. By being happy with the things we have. And by sharing those things with others. In other words, respect for others means we should treat them like we would like to be treated.
Love God first. Then love others as ourselves. These two commands together are called the “Great Commandment.” These two commands show us the way to understand the rules in life. And the way Jesus wants us to live.