In this Gospel, one of the scribes asks Jesus which commandment is greatest. The Lord responds with, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” He continues immediately with, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” All of the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God can be summed up with these two. Jesus shares with us that love of God and love of neighbor are connected by how quickly he adds the second command. Many of us have heard about the Greatest Commandments, but it wasn’t until today that I took note of how the scribe responds to Jesus and how Jesus responds back.
The scribe says to Jesus that he is right. My first reaction to this is, “Duh, he’s Jesus, of course he’s right.” But then I see how Jesus responds to his response when he says, “You are not far from the kingdom of God,” after seeing the scribe understood what he was saying.
We cannot follow the law if we don’t understand it, and we cannot understand it if we don’t know it. So we must first know the law. How do we do that? Scripture! I love the bible and I try to spend time in God’s word each day. I think the bible is a seriously under used resource. The one unfortunate thing about getting into God’s word to learn about the law is that the Pentateuch can be a bit boring. So for those of you that can’t get through Leviticus (know you are not alone) spend some time in Exodus. The story of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt is a great story and you will also see the Ten Commandments. Try to memorize them and use them at the end of the day when you do an examination of conscience.
Once we know the law we must work on understanding it. There are a couple things I would recommend at this step. First, keep reading scripture. The bible is full of people who followed the commandments and people who didn’t. As you read through, keep your commandments in mind and see if you can tell which one someone is breaking or following. Second, go to the resources given to us by the Church, especially the Catechism. Holy Mother Church wants us to have the tools necessary to live in this world, so throughout history she has provided us with tons of resources to help. Go to the Vatican website, your parish, or your local Catholic bookstore to find the resources available to you that will help you better understand God’s law.
Now that we know the law and understand the law, we must follow the law. In my opinion this is the hardest step. I can read about running, understand the benefits to my body, but if I don’t actually run, I’m not going to get any healthier. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said the scribe was not far from the kingdom of God. Contrary to popular belief, we do need to say yes to the Holy Spirit when he prompts us. We do need to be under the law because none of us are completely governed by the Spirt. If we were, we would be perfect as Jesus was perfect. So because I sometimes say no to the Sprit, the Father gave me the law.
Through knowledge and understanding we develop the ability to do the will of God. When we see the perfection of the laws given to Moses and summarized by Jesus we are able to tap into the Spirit and better humble ourselves before the feet of Christ. It is my prayer that each of us will love God and neighbor more by developing hearts like Jesus’ Sacred Heart and spend time in his word getting to know him.