One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Jesus summarizes the teaching of the entire Old Covenant in two commandments. ● The greatest is the Shema (Hebrew for “hear!”), taken from Deut 6:4–5. The Israelites considered this passage a summary or creed of their faith in the one God of the universe. The second is taken from Lev 19:18. Together these injunctions to love God and one’s neighbor underlie all 613 precepts of the Mosaic Law and especially the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:2–17; Deut 5:6–21). The distillation of Yahweh’s revealed Law into two commandments was prefigured by the two stone tablets of the Decalogue (Ex 34:1).
Friends, our Gospel today features what the ancient Israelites referred to as the Shema: “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is Lord Alone.” Could I invite you to make an examination of conscience on the basis of the Shema? Is God the one Lord of your life? Who or what are his rivals for your attention, for your ultimate concern? Or turn the question around: does absolutely everything in your life belong to God?
You might ask, how do I give myself to a reality that I cannot see? This is where the second command of Jesus comes into play. When asked which is the first of all commandments, Jesus responded with the Shema, but then he added something to the tradition, a second command, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
There is strict logic at work here. When you really love someone, you tend to love, as well, what they love. Well, what does God love? He loves everything and everyone that he has made. So, if you want to love God, and you find this move difficult because God seems so distant, love anyone you come across for the sake of God.
– Bishop Robert Barron
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.