The Greatest Commandment of the Law “are two” !!
THIRTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The Pharisees must have experienced the presence of Jesus very threatening if, for the second time, they launch an attack at him with the intention of discrediting him in the eyes of the people who loved him so much. As the saying goes “If you are not able to kill the message, kill the messenger” and this seems their strategy: again they approach Jesus with the aim of damaging his reputation; they are relentless in their effort.
They tried already last Sunday: on that occasion they did not go to meet Jesus themselves, but they sent their disciples: a very clever move! They thought: “if our disciples fail, they will not blame us; but if they succeed, even simple disciples can discredit the great teacher”!! The disciples failed miserably.
Today the Pharisees themselves appear on the scene. The plan is to disconcert him, make fun of him in front of everybody. They want to prove that he is uneducated and therefore unauthorized to teach about God.
This time there are no flattering words, they go straight to the point:
“Which is the greatest commandments of the Law”? It seems to us a simple question since today we learn only Ten Commandments. The rabbis of Jesus’ time, studying the Bible, had pointed out 613 commandments, 365 of which were negatives, that is to say, forbidden actions, and 248 were positive, works to be done.
It was practically impossible to remember them all, let alone to put them into practice. Just imagine a catechist of our time teaching at the catechumens 613 Commandments! He would need at least five years preparation to teach them and many would be forgotten at the end of the Catechumenate!!!
“Which one is the greatest of them all?” The answer of Jesus went to the point: “Love God with all heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and the second resembles it: you must love your neighbour as yourself”! The two are connected, one cannot exist without the other.
In the past somebody accuse all religions of being “opium” of the people, a kind of drug that sent the believers into a sweet and dreamy world, making them forget the problems of the real one. They were convinced that religion was useless and damaging. The Gospel and the first reading of this Sunday remind us that our love for God is measured by the attentions we have towards others, specially the weak and needed: widows, orphans and strangers (First reading: Exodus 22:20-26).
St. Augustine said: Love and do what you want. In harmony with the gospel of today we can say: love and invent all the commandments you want to reach this goal. Have a nice Sunday.