The Reading: Mark 12:28-34
“You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (v.31) RSV
The two commandments that Jesus gave to sum up the Old Testament law were: a) to love God with our whole being, and b) to love our neighbour as our self. We cannot of course fulfil the second, unless we fulfil the first. And we cannot fulfil the first, if we are not fulfilling the second!
In other words, we do not have the love of God with which to love our neighbour, unless we are loved by and love God. As we walk with our God so we are able to fulfil the commandment to love our neighbour: his love is “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).
Conversely, if we think we love God and yet are not loving our neighbour, then we are deceiving ourselves (1 John 3:17). The way that we show that we genuinely love God is by loving our neighbour “in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
We cannot give if we have not received. We cannot give what we do not have. If we do not love ourselves then we cannot love others. Maybe we have never been loved. How then can we fulfil this great command? The answer lies in the love of God. Once we start to understand how much he loves us, and that he accepts us as we are, then we shall find that same love starting to work through us to others.
This is why Jesus gave us a “new commandment” (John 13:34). This new commandment deepened the original commandment (Leviticus 19:18) that he had quoted. Now the requirement is: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). This love, in the words of Ignatius, is “to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that I do your will.”
Let us resolve to love God, not only face to face, but by loving others, for he loves them too.
Teach me, O Lord, to love others, whoever they are, with the love with which you love me. Amen.
1 What practical loving is Jesus talking about?
2 Who were Jesus’ ‘neighbours’?