The Pharisees who we hear questioning Jesus in today’s Gospel were looking for a simple answer to the question that the scholars of the Hebrew law debated: “What is the greatest of the commandments?” There were after all some 613 of them in Hebrew Scripture. Jesus answered with two quotations from the Torah. The first, from the Sacred Jewish Prayer called the Shema Israel, that’s found in chapter six of the Book of Deuteronomy and recited by Jews every morning and evening: Hear this, O Israel, Shema Israel, God is One. You shall love your God with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind. The second, from the Book of Leviticus: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. We can’t just love God part of the time; we have to love Him with everything we have. We can’t just be good to our neighbour sometimes; we have to be good to others always. Jesus’ answer demands a new way of life and a new way of living that draws us so close to God that we become His presence for others. We pray today that we might love God more deeply so that we will have no choice but to bring God’s love to those around us.
…is a way of life, not just a commandment!