A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 22:34-40
34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,
35 and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,
36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
37 He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the greatest and the first commandment.
39 The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Reflection: Proof of Love
Good News: The greatest commandment is to love God and your neighbor as yourself.
“Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” This is a very good question maliciously posed by a scholar of the law. He is not actually interested in gaining new knowledge but only to test Jesus. Nevertheless, our Lord obligingly responded with two answers. First, love God with your total being. Second, love your neighbor as yourself. He mentions further that the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.
How do we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind? First of all, we cannot give what we do not have. We cannot love God without knowing Him and experiencing that He loved us first. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Loving God with all our heart means to make God our number one desire and priority. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Thus, if our heart is full of love for God, then everything that we say must be godly. Out of the fullness of our heart must come words of praises and songs of worship and gratitude.
Loving God with all our soul means our “breath” and our inmost being must be directed towards God. It means every second of our life must be dedicated to God alone. In other words, our whole life must be in accord with God.
Loving God with all our mind means all our physical as well as mental faculties are to be used for the greater glory of God. In Mark 12:30, strength is added. This means that everything that we think and do must give honor to God.
Loving God therefore means to serve Him alone and to give Him glory in everything that we think, do, or say.
On the other hand, loving your neighbor as you love yourself means serving others without neglecting yourself. Once again, let us remember that we cannot give what we don’t have. We cannot love others if we are incapable of loving ourselves. In fact, people who hurt others are those who lack self-love. Because humanity is just one family and that we belong to one another, hurting others is hurting yourself.
Love is not just a feeling. It is an action. It is shown by serving God and others with our time, talent, and treasure. In short, the proof of love is service.
Love is a universal as well as eternal value. Without it, we will all cease to exist. In the words of Saint Paul, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthian 1:1-2)