The Greatest Command

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.
This 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.”(Matthew 22:34-40)

Scripture Study

22:35 [A scholar of the law]: meaning “scribe.” Although this reading is supported by the vast majority of textual witnesses, it is the only time that the Greek word so translated occurs in Matthew. It is relatively frequent in Luke, and there is reason to think that it may have been added here by a copyist since it occurs in the Lucan parallel (Lk 10:25–28).

22:36 For the devout Jew all the commandments were to be kept with equal care, but there is evidence of preoccupation in Jewish sources with the question put to Jesus.

22:37–38 Cf. Dt 6:5. Matthew omits the first part of Mark’s fuller quotation (Mk 12:29; Dt 6:4–5), probably because he considered its monotheistic emphasis needless for his church. The love of God must engage the total person (heart, soul, mind).

22:39 Jesus goes beyond the extent of the question put to him and joins to the greatest and the first commandment a second, that of love of neighbor, Lv 19:18. This combination of the two commandments may already have been made in Judaism.

22:40 The double commandment is the source from which the whole law and the prophets are derived.

Scripture Reflection

In reply to the question, our Lord points out that the whole law can be condensed into two commandments: the first and more important consists in unconditional love of God; the second is a consequence and result of the first, because when man is loved, St Thomas says, God is loved, for man is the image of God.

A person who genuinely loves God also loves his fellows because he realizes that they are his brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, redeemed by the same blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord establishes as the guideline for our love of neighbor the love each of us has for himself; both love of others and love of self are based on love of God. Hence, in some cases it can happen that God requires us to put our neighbor’s need before our own; in others, not: it depends on what value, in the light of God’s love, needs to be put on the spiritual and material factors involved.

From all this we can deduce that self-love of the right kind, based on God’s love for man, necessarily involves forgetting oneself in order to love God and our neighbor for God.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Greater Things

Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
(John 1:45-51)

Scripture Study

1:45 Moses … the prophets: Introduces a theme of scriptural fulfillment that runs throughout the Gospel narrative (2:22; 5:46; 7:38; 10:35; etc.).

1:46 Nazareth: A small and secluded Galilean village considered unimportant to many in Israel.

1:47 A true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him: Jacob was the first to bear the name “Israel” (Gn 32:29), but Jacob was a man of duplicity (Gn 27:35–36).

1:48 Under the fig tree: a symbol of messianic peace (cf. Mi 4:4; Zec 3:10).

1:49 Son of God: this title is used in the Old Testament, among other ways, as a title of adoption for the Davidic king (2 Sm 7:14; Ps 2:7; 89:27), and thus here, with King of Israel, in a messianic sense. For the evangelist, Son of God also points to Jesus’ divinity (cf. Jn 20:28).

1:50 Possibly a statement: “You [singular] believe because I saw you under the fig tree.”

1:51 The double “Amen” is characteristic of John. You is plural in Greek. The allusion is to Jacob’s ladder (Gn 28:12).

Scripture Reflection

A Christian may find that, in trying to communicate his faith to others, they raise difficulties. What should they do? What Philip did—not trust his own explanation, but invite them to approach Jesus personally: “Come and see.” In other words, a Christian should bring his brothers and sisters into Jesus’ presence through the means of grace which he has given them.

Nathanael, a sincere person, goes along with Philip to see Jesus and makes personal contact with our Lord. The outcome is that he receives faith, the result of his ready reception of grace, which reaches him through Christ’s human nature. It’s about intimacy with the Lord.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.