THE TWO GREATEST
(Matthew 22:34-40; Mark
Scribes and Sadducees were not really agreed on which is the
greatest commandment. Some thought it was sacrifices but the Scribes
thought it was to love God and neighbor.
So happy was the Scribe when he
received from Christ the answer confirming their stand that the
greatest commandment is to love God and neighbor.
In the New Testament, Christ stated
that the greatest commandment is to love God. The second is to love
your neighbor...which is like the first, He added. In between these
two commands is to love oneself...which does not have to be
mentioned because it is natural to man.
We must love God as God and not as
a man as many do, treating Christ as man and sort of having a
romantic relationship with Him. We must love ourselves as humans and
not as gods as many also tend to do. And we must love our neighbor
as we love ourselves.
In this we must observe the right
order; in that we must love God first before we can love ourselves
and our neighbors in the right way. Without loving God first, a soul
becomes totally incapable of loving oneself and neighbor in the
right way. And Christ said so--that the love of God is shown by
loving one's neighbor. If there is no love for God, there is no love
to show one's neighbor.
How do we love God? "If you
love Me, keep My commandments." We must keep the commandments
of God in the Old Testament and the Beatitudes of Christ in the New
Testament. And this is Christ's command, in short, "to deny
oneself, take up one's cross and follow Him." Christ said the
same command in different ways; one way is to be "meek and
humble of heart."
How do we love ourselves if we have
loved God first? By obeying His commands. Because it is in this way
that we are saved and to save ourselves is the greatest act of love
we can do for ourselves. He who sins and condemns himself to eternal
damnation hates himself.
And how do we love our neighbor if
we truly love God and ourselves. By making our neighbors, husband,
wife, children and others obey the commands of Christ. St. Thomas
Aquinas said: "In your journey to salvation, make your neighbor
walk with you." It is not enough to serve them physically with
food and drink and education and other material comforts. You must
teach them and make them obey the commands of God found in
both the Old and New Testament. If you don't do this, you do not
love your neighbor, you do not love yourself and you do not love
The great spiritual battle going on
in the world is that war between love of God and love for the world.
Christ clearly said: "Friendship with the world is enmity with
God." And the world is surely winning in that most souls have
opted to love the world rather than love God. Christ deplored these
our times, describing it as a generation that loves money and
Where and how can we learn the love
of God and neighbor? In an atmosphere of discipline and unity. The
atmosphere must be such that all the commands of Christ are being
observed by all. And there is unity in the quest for holiness among
all. Cupidity is the greatest enemy of this atmosphere wherein
individuals insist on their own desires rather than the Will of God.
And because the world is a place where everyone pursues his own
interests, in such an atmosphere, it becomes impossible to love God
and neighbor .
In the early history of the Church,
to attain to the knowledge of love of God, Christian monarchs sent
their children to monasteries and they, themselves, ended their
lives in monasteries or they would invite a holy monk to their
castle to supervise the Christian training of their children. St.
Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers and of politicians did exactly
that. He got very Christian teachers to tutor his children at home;
and teachers, children and servants lived a disciplined monastic
life at home.
When we have obeyed all the
commands of Christ, thus showing we love God...when we have become
deserving of salvation because of our obedience to Christ's
commands, thus showing we love ourselves in the right way...when we
have made our neighbor obey Christ's commands, thus showing we love
our neighbor...then we can say that we love God with all our heart,
with all our mind and with all our strength.