THE GREATEST COMMAND (Matthew
There are three kinds of learner. The
first are those who can learn from the experience of others. They
don't have to undergo an experience to learn from it. The second are
those who have to learn from experience. This is not so good in that
certain experiences are evil and others are permanently destructive.
The third are those who cannot learn either from their or others'
experience. They cannot even be called learners. And such were the
Pharisees and Scribes.
Refuted by Christ and seeing others
refuted by Christ, they continued to entrap Him. They never learned.
But now a Pharisee who was a lawyer was sent to entrap Christ.
Fortunately, this lawyer was a thinking lawyer and, as the Gospel
shows, he was eventually converted to Christ.
He approached Christ and asked a
very good question. It was a test that would truly show if one is
from God or not. "Which is the greatest command?" The
lawyer-Pharisee knew which was the greatest command. He was testing
if Christ would modify by adding or subtracting from the commands of
God. A man of God would not add nor subtract; a pleaser of man would
modify the teachings of God.
Christ answered and at the same
time did not fall into the trap. The lawyer, being a learner, was
enlightened. And Christ praised him as "not far from the
kingdom of God," a way of saying that he was well on the right
way but not quite inside the kingdom. He still lacked a few things.
Christ had a way of answering that
enlightens; the enlightenment comes in a greater knowledge of
oneself. In effect, Christ told the lawyer, 'This is the greatest
commandment, Love God, and you are not doing it since you are trying
to entrap me which is no act of love.'
'Love God with all your soul like
the plants, with all your heart like the animals and with all your
mind like humans.' And the second, love of neighbor, is
likened to the first in that only rational beings can love neighbor.
No one can love neighbor, whether wife or children, without loving
There are two things that lead to
perdition; evil doctrines and a corrupt life. Love of God removes
evil doctrines; love of neighbor corrects a corrupt life. The two
are welded together. One cannot exist without the other. More often
one lives a corrupt life because he has evil doctrines.
Blessed Theophylact: On Matthew