When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.
Introductory Prayer: Dear Lord, I believe in you, because you have a plan for me that will bring me to be like you. I hope in you, because your example and your grace give me the strength to be able to identify my will with yours. I love you, because only by loving you can I be transformed into you and be holy.
1. Wanting What God Wants: What is true love? Quoting the Roman historian, Sallust, Pope-Emeritus Benedict shows us what the authentic content of love is: “To want the same thing, and to reject the same thing was recognized by antiquity as the authentic content of love: the one becomes similar to the other, and this leads to community of will and thought” ( Deus Caritas Est , 17). This quote helps us understand that to love is to identify our will with God’s will. This leads us to be like God. This fact corrects the error of our first parents who disobeyed God.
2. Love Has Two Dimensions: True love has two dimensions: love for God and love for our neighbor. The first epistle of John, known as the “Magna Carta” of charity, expresses frequently and clearly the close relationship between them. One cannot exist without the other: “No one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10); “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God” (1 John 4:7); “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another” (1 John 4:11); “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).
3. Loving Others: Loving God requires loving others. This is not easy, especially in a world that highly esteems individualism and permits stepping on others to get ahead. If loving others according to the Old Testament requirement, “as you love yourself” is difficult, we can imagine how difficult it is to love others according to Christ’s requirement, “as I have loved you” (cf. John 13:34), which is a true Christian’s hallmark: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). How many times do we judge only from appearances, or judge people only by their physical traits or defects? It’s so easy to comment on peoples’ defects, imperfections, and ways of acting; yet, it is so difficult to praise constantly what is positive in them. One of the best ways to love our neighbor is to seek charity in speech.