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The Greatest Commandment is Love

A Sunday Reflection by Bro. Ron Calderon, CJM

Are you obedient to God’s commandments? We have used the the ten commandments as one of the earliest references of Christians and Jews on how to evaluate our actions. Are our actions leading to the truth or lies? Are we doing life-giving actions or actions leading to death and unfreedom? We can easily assess our actions by going through the ten commandments. At times, I remember going through the ten commandments when I plan to go to the sacrament of reconciliation. Before I confess my sins to a priest, I go through the ten commandments to determine if I violated some of the divine rules in the past month or so.

But honestly, looking at the goodness of our life based on commandments or rules could be limiting. There are people who live their lives in accordance with rules, laws and commandments but others may still find them as a bad person once in a while. When a person has been blinded by a narrow understanding of the law, that person could live a life just by trying to meet the requirements of the law at the minimum. And when this happens, the person misses out on the spirit of the law.

When one reflects on the spirit of the law, we can go back to common good, virtues and the divine law. If we trace the origin of the spirit of the law, we eventually go back to God, who is truth, goodness, beauty and love. God is love, and so love is in fact God’s law.

That is why when the scribe in our gospel today asked about the greatest commandment, our Lord Jesus answered with the love of God and love of neighbor as the greatest commandments. Jesus told the scribe two and not just one commandment because these two commandments are inseparable.

Love of God is obviously the most important commandment. To love God is in fact our response to the love God showed us. “We love [God] because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).” God showers our life from the very beginning up until the end, and we ought to respond in loving this gracious, generous and merciful God. Remember that He gave us a chance to rise above sin and death through the sacrifice of his only begotten Son on the cross. This is a great gift from our God through Jesus Christ. Once we realize how good and loving God is in our life, we can only respond in loving him back.

Since God is everywhere and beyond time and space, we cannot express our love for Him like God is a human person. That is why Jesus in the gospel told the scribe that there is a second greatest commandment, and that is to love our neighbor as ourselves. All are God’s children, and that includes our neighbors and us. When I show love to my neighbors, God who is the Father of all creation would be very pleased with my gesture. And so to love our neighbor is our way of expressing our love to God.

Come to think of it, even our respect and love for our environment, the land, plants and trees, animals and insects could be a way of loving our neighbors too. For these creatures are part of God’s creation too. God would definitely be happy to see when we show our love and respect for all His creation.

At the end of our life, the question “are you obedient to commandments and laws” might not be very useful. God would be asking us instead, “how generously did you love Me and your neighbor in your lifetime?” And when God ask this question, what would be your answer? Maybe it’s time to focus on our loving response than on how we could meet the requirements of commandments and laws.

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