(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, the Pharisees come to Jesus and ask,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
A commandment is something that God asks of us. God calls us to act in a certain way. In the Holy Scriptures, we hear many commandments because God is always calling people to work with Him to build the Kingdom. The Pharisees want to know if there is one commandment that is most important, greater than all the others. Jesus answers,
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.”
What did you hear? What is God asking of us?
The first part is pretty easy to understand. We are called to love God with our heart. Hearts naturally make us think of love, don’t they? We also think of our heart as the place where we keep the light of the Risen Christ that is given to us in Baptism. With our heart, we lift up that light for God.
The last part is fairly easy to understand, too. We are called to love God with our mind. Our mind is made up of our thoughts. When we pray, we lift up all our thoughts to God. Our mind also controls our words and our actions. If we love with all our mind--with all our thoughts--our mouth and body will be loving, too. We can love God with our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
We are also called to love God with our soul—what can this mean? Our soul is ours and yet not ours. It is given to us by God. It is what makes me, me, and not someone else; it makes you, you and not someone different. Our soul is what makes us so special, one-of-a kind, a treasure belonging to God. And when God calls us by name, it is our soul that answers.
Our mind, our heart, our soul—with all of these we are called to love God. If we love God with mind, heart, and soul, is there any part of us that we keep from loving God? With our whole self, we love God. Nothing left over.
And then Jesus--being Jesus who gives abundantly--gives the Pharisees a second commandment. He says,
And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
There’s that call to love again! This time, who are we called to love? Our neighbour and ourselves. Both.
I wonder who Jesus is thinking of when he says "love your neighbour." Usually we think of our neighbour as the person who lives nearest to us. But we can also think of our neighbour as the person who sits closest to us, who plays nearest to us, or who stands nearest to us when we are out shopping. This could be a different person each time we are out! That is a lot of people to love! Can we even do this?
I notice that Jesus gives these commandments in a certain order.
First, love God.
Second, love your neighbour as yourself.
One, then the other. I wonder if it is even possible to love someone else if we do not first love God. God—who is love, who is nothing but love—is the source of all love. Maybe we only know how to love because God calls us and loves us first. What do you think?
These two commandments—love God, love neighbour as self—these are called the Summary of the Law. That means, if we do these two commandments, we do not have to worry about all the others. We will be doing them all.
This is what God commands. This is what God calls us to do. Loving is our work to build the Kingdom. Maybe this week, together with God, we can all hold these commandments in our mind, in our heart, and in our soul.