Scripture

Matthew 22: 34-40

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Reflection

Yesterday we thought about our tendency to “otherize” people who don’t fit into our acceptable categories. We studied Jesus’ example of reaching out beyond his normal groups to interact and love those who are on the margins of life. This mandate to love those who don’t fit neatly into our categories of friend groups, is one of the basic teachings of Jesus. He told us the greatest commandment was to love God and the second greatest was to love our neighbors as ourselves. That can be easy, when it is convenient for us. But when we are in a hurry, not in a good frame of mind, or just dealing with a difficult person, loving our neighbor is a real struggle. Some people may seem so different from us, or so difficult to reach that we have a hard time talking to them, let alone love them! But guess what bothers and sisters, that neighbor is the very one you need to work the hardest to love. Yep, I said it, and you know it deep down.

I have written before about praying for those with whom you have difficulty. It impacts the person and their circumstances, and it changes your heart. So I suggest you start there, my friend. Start praying today for that neighbor, that person who seems so foreign to you and your way of life. Pray they have joy. Pray they know God. Pray they have good friends to do life with. Then ask God how you can bring them joy, help them know God and be a friend to them.

Prayer

Holy One, we are grateful for the resurrection we celebrated this week. We live in awe of your goodness and your greatness. Help us not move on from this Holy season, but live instead as Easter people, driven by the love and grace of Christ. Shape our souls, feed our spirit, and guide us with your Holy Spirit. In the name of the risen Christ, Amen.