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Mt 22:36 “[Jesus], which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
The first is from the Shema: Dt 6:4 “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
The Father explained: Dt 6:6 “These words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This is an extremely powerful commandment. Jesus is telling us that we are to adore Him in every moment of our lives. We are to take our children from a very early age to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to fill their hearts with Jesus. We are to talk about our love for Jesus when we sit in our house. When we sit down to dinner, we are to bless our food in His name and speak of Him. When we sit down in the evening, we are to open a Bible and reflect on His Word. We are to talk of our love for Jesus when we walk in our neighborhood or in a shopping mall. We are to talk of our love for Jesus when we go to bed in the evening and when we wake up in the morning. Our love for Jesus should be reflected in our actions and should be constantly before our eyes. Even the outdoor entryways to our home should reflect our love for Jesus, so that every passerby will know that in this house Jesus reigns as King.
Lv 19:18 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Jewish sage Yohanan ben Zakkai, most respected among the founders of Yavneh, taught that “loving our neighbor” means we have to take care of our neighbor’s honor as much as our own, our neighbor’s property as much as our own. Yet the ancient Israelites did not even love themselves very much. God called them to what is best for themselves but they rebelled, hurting themselves.
Jesus raised this commandment dramatically. He said, Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ’You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” The Hebrew Scriptures accepted hating the enemies of God. Ps 139:21 “Do I not hate them that hate Thee, O Lord? And do I not loathe them that rise up against Thee? I hate them with perfect hatred.” He changed Lv 19:18 “love your neighbor” to Mt 5:44 “Love your enemies,” expanding the range of our love from the neighborhood to the world. God loves all His covenant family; the most miserable refugee remains God’s image and likeness. Jesus told us, Mt 25:40 “As you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” The “coveting” commandments, Ex 20:17 prohibiting near occasions of sin, prefigured our Lord’s raising several “love one another” commandments to new heights. The fifth commandment, Ex 20:13 “You shall not kill,” became, Mt 5:22 “Every one who is angry … shall be liable to judgment.” The sixth, Ex 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery,” became, Mt 5:28 “Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The eighth, Ex 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness,” became, Mt 5:34 “Do not swear at all … Let what you say be simply ’Yes’ or ’No.’”
In all of Torah, only ten commandments were written Ex 31:18 “with the finger of God.”
The first three teach us how to love God: “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve,” “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
The remaining seven teach us how to love one another: “Honor your father and your mother,” “You shall not kill,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s property.”
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