30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 22:20-26 II:
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sad'ducees, they came together.
35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him.
36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the great and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."
There were 613 prescriptions in the Jewish Law. Although they were to be
observed equally, the Jewish scholars often debate their relative importance
and classified them as "heavies" or "lights".
The two commandments that Jesus quoted are from Deuteronomy 6:5, and
Levitus 19:18. Jesus must be the first to put these two commandments
together, and made them becoming one. He put God first however, and men
second; men only become lovable when we love God. Jesus reminded the
listeners that God's commandments are meant to put men in relation with God.
Deuteronomy 6:5 is the basic and essential creed of Judaism, the sentence
with which every Jewish service still opens, and the first text that every
Jewish child commits to memory. It means that to God, we must give a total
love, a love that dominates our emotions, a love that directs our thoughts,
and a love that is the motivation of our actions.
In the Mediterranean culture at the time of Jesus, to love means to be
One Main Point
The greatest commandment is duty to God and duty to men: to love God, and
then to love men whom God made in His own image.
Before we start loving God, He loves us first. As always, He is longing
our love for Him in return. Look back at the experiences in our life, how
would the love of God that we allow to grow in our heart enable us to love
other people, even those that we would despise? Loving God, is that the key
to our spiritual life? Loving men, is that a necessary action to discern how
true our love for God is?
Is it easier to love God than our neighbors? Meditate the teaching:
"It is love of God first and love of man second".
Contemplate the love that you have for God. How do we respond to God?
Test your love for God by checking your tendency to respond to God's love -
the way you want to do, or the way God wants you to do.
Jesus teaches us a way to love our neighbor: "This is the truth I tell
you - whatever you did it to one of these least brothers of mine, you did it
for me" (Mt. 25:40). How would we be able to see Jesus in our neighbors,
even in those that we would despise?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community