The Bible: The Power of Rebirth

The Greatest Commandment

The Greatest Commandment

Reflection on the Gospel of the Friday
In The Twentieth Week Of Ordinary Time

 

Matthew 22: 34-40

In today’s gospel, the Pharisees come as a group to test Jesus again. They select one of their members, a scribe who was an expert on the Law, to ask Jesus another question.  The scribe asks Jesus which is the greatest commandment from among all the commandments. There were 613 laws in existence at that time.

Jesus replies: ‘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. And the second commandment flows from the first: You shall love your neighbour as yourself

According to secular literature of the time, all the commandments were to be treated with equal devotion, but Jesus summed up the commandments of the Law in two sentences, and both these are different sides of the same coin. To Love God means to love His Family and His Work; therefore love of neighbour. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets. Jesus’ answer is from two passages of the Torah. The first and greatest commandment is from the Shema, the Old Covenant profession of faith from Deuteronomy 6:5, summing up one’s relationship with God. The second is from Leviticus 19:18 and is the summary of the commandments concerning one’s relationship with one’s fellow men. In quoting these passages, Jesus is summing up the entire law upon which the Torah and the books of the Prophets are based.

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