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The greatest commandment

Gospel Reading: Mt 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

You shall love the Lord
Jesus replies to a Pharisee who wants to test him. The guy is an expert of the law. He must be much older than Jesus.

He must be much older than Jesus. He spends most of his time studying the law and its interpretations. He can engage in debates like the Sadducees. He thinks he can fare better than they. So he begins to test Jesus.

Jesus’ first commandment does not come as a surprise; it is not new to the Jews who pray it morning and evening in the recitation of the Shema based on Dt. 6:4-6. The second greatest is culled from Leviticus.

Jesus picks up an important teaching of Jewish religion, love. Love is expressed in one’s relationship with God and neighbor. This God of love is the God of history. He accompanies his people towards liberation. The neighbor is one’s brother journeying with him in the community. The neighbor is also the stranger.

Religion is not so much a conformity to set rules and regulations and their interpretation as the spontaneous practice of love. True religion is the religion of the heart. An excessive academic approach leads to legalism and quantification.

How do you practice your religion?

Does it increase your knowledge of your religion or your capacity to love?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.