In the Gospel for this Sunday, the Pharisees come to Jesus and ask,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
When God calls us to act in a certain way, we name that a commandment. In the Holy Scriptures, we hear many commandments because God always calls people to work with Him to build the Kingdom. The Pharisees want to know if one commandment 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 does God ask of us?
We can understand the first part pretty easily. We are called to love God with our heart. Hearts naturally make us think of love, do they not? We also think of our heart as the place where we keep the light of the Risen Christ given to us in Baptism. With our heart, we lift up that light for God.
We can understand the last part fairly easily, too. We are called to love God with our mind. Our thoughts make up our mind. 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 love, 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 belongs to us and yet somehow it does not. God gives us our soul. Our soul makes us different from everyone else. Our soul 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, do we keep any part of us away from loving God? With our whole self, we love God. Nothing left over.
And then Jesus—being one who gives abundantly—gives the Pharisees a second commandment. He says,
And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
Again, that call to love! This time, who does God call us to love? Our neighbour and ourselves. Both.
We have to wonder who Jesus has in mind 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 go out shopping. This could be a different person each time we go out! So many people to love! Can we even do this?
Notice that Jesus gives these commandments in a certain order.
First, love God.
Second, love your neighbour as yourself.
One, then the other.
Can we love someone else at all if we do not first love God?
God—who is love, who is nothing but love—is the source of all love.
From God comes all love.
Maybe we only know how to love because God calls us and loves us first.
We will have to think about that.
These two commandments—love God, love neighbour as self—we call 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.