When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced
the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a
lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which
commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to
him, "´You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, and with all your soul, and with all
your mind.´ This is the greatest and first commandment. And
a second is like it: ´You shall love your neighbor
as yourself.´ On these two commandments hang all the law
and the prophets."
Lord, I believe in you with a faith that never
seeks to test you. I trust in you, hoping to
learn to accept and follow your will, even when it
does not make sense to the way that I see
things. May my love for you and those around me
be similar to the love you have shown me.
Petition: Lord, give me the strength
to put you first in my life and others second.
1. Putting God First:
Jesus gives a twofold response to the question about which
of the commandments is the greatest. He first turns to
Deuteronomy 6:15: “You shall love the Lord your God …”
This was familiar to the Jews, for they recited this
passage in prayer (called the “Shema”) several times a day
and wrote it on all their doorposts. For us, as
well as for the Jews, it is a constant reminder
that God must be first in our life. As our
creator and redeemer, God has an absolute claim on us.
We owe him everything. Everything we have is a gift
from him. Too often we shelve God, ignoring him until
a convenient moment arises or it suits our mood. Putting
God first means setting aside the best part of our
day for prayer to him and seeking to live his
will at every moment out of love for him.
2. Becoming “Other-Centered”: Jesus next
turns to the commandment found in Leviticus 19:18: “You shall
love your neighbor …” He combines the two commandments in
such a way that one cannot be fulfilled without the
other. There can be no love of God without loving
other human persons, made in his image. Nor can love
of neighbor exist without a pure and purifying love for
God. Love for neighbor requires putting others ahead of ourselves.
Self-love and self-absorption lead only to loneliness and isolation. Being
“other-centered” is the key to our happiness and fulfillment. To
love others means to seek their true good, to serve
them out of love for the Lord. We need to
come out of ourselves and look beyond the narrow interests
of our egoism and self-love. The more we love authentically,
the more fulfilled our life will become.
3. Praying for Those Who Harm Us: It
is not easy to break out of selfish habits. Because
of sin, we have the tendency to inflate self-interest in
a disordered way. This is not good. We need to
ask for the power of grace to purify our hearts
and give us the interior strength to put others ahead
of ourselves. God is ready to give us this grace,
but he wants us to ask for it. Difficult circumstances
and relationships need to be faced by prayer and sacrifice.
We need to pray even for those who harm us
and to ask God to give us the grace and
strength to love them as God loves them. “Bless those
who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans
Conversation with Christ: Lord,
help me to put you first in my life. So
many times I find myself putting other things ahead of
you. I make time for the things I want to
do, but I find little time to pray. I find
time to talk to my friends, but little time to
speak with you. I need strength from you to love
you. Help me also to see and love others as
Resolution: I will
pray during the day for someone who bothers me and
seek to put their good before my own.
Paul Campbell, LC