The Greatest Commandment
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” These very familiar words of Our Lord feature in today’s Gospel when the Pharisees ask Him which is the greatest of the commandments. In fact, He is quoting from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:4). “The second” He says, “resembles it: you must love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
I think we would all agree this is easier said than done! But just as a musician spends many hours practicing, so must we give all our efforts in trying to come closer to God and loving our neighbour. This will certainly involve some struggle and a determination to see it through. If an athlete or a musician gave up, they would never achieve their goal. In the same way, we cannot be lazy about achieving our ultimate goal, which is eternal life.
To show our love of God, He has given us The Ten Commandments as a guide. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). These are not meant to restrict us - rather they are the instruction book as to how to be happy in life. Our love of God and our neighbour is made manifest, not in some sort of sentimental way, but by works of mercy. This might include something like
- visiting a sick or elderly relative,
- doing some shopping for them,
- meeting up with someone who perhaps hasn’t been at Mass for a while to see if everything is OK,
- being with a friend when they have suffered a bereavement.
In this way we become channels of grace.
Loving our neighbour might also mean on occasions having to say no. Love sometimes means having to correct or to take someone to task, which can be hard. But people know when you really love them. Above all we should pray for our neighbour, whether they be family members, our friends, our priests, the homeless or Christians suffering persecution. In this way we show our love of God by talking to Him AND our love of neighbour by petitioning our Heavenly Father on their behalf.
Fr. Paul Gillham IC