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9 March 2018

In today’s Gospel, we stand on holy ground as Jesus tells us what is at the very heart of the law.

In the Judaism of Jesus’ time, there were hundreds and hundreds of commandments/laws/regulations governing every aspect of life. It was a favorite exercise of Rabbi’s to ask one another – ‘What’s the most central, greatest commandment”?

Jesus gives his famous answer.

‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

And then Jesus adds this, and it makes all the difference.

The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’

Everything else in Jewish life is subordinate to those two great commandments. It’s about love because that is what God is.

If you love God but not your neighbour, then your love is worth nothing. Your love of God is phony.

St Augustine said that if you are ever confused about what something means in scripture then use these commandments as an interpretive guide. The entire bible is intended to bring us to the point where we love God, and because we love God, we love our neighbour.

Why are these two laws so tightly linked in Christianity? Purely because of who Jesus is. Christ stands at the heart of our faith – fully divine, fully human. Therefore it becomes impossible for a Christian to love God without loving humanity. To love Him is to reverence these two laws at the same time because of who He is. The love of God conduces to the love of neighbour because Christ is both divine and human.

What does following these two commandments look like concretely? Look at the saints; they’ll always tell you.

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