The people of Israel who wished to be faithful followers of Yahweh were expected to keep six hundred and thirteen laws and regulations that governed what they ate to their whole lifestyle. Though the people considered all these laws of Moses important, they also realized some were more important than others.
In the Gospel, Jesus states clearly that some laws are more important than others. When a scholar of the Law asks him which is the most important commandment of the law, Jesus gives a double answer and not one but two commandments paired together for a single most important commandment of the Law – love of God and love of neighbor. “You are to love God with your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus says that together they constitute the foundation not only of the other six hundred and eleven laws but the entire Old Testament.
St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians continues to praise them not only for accepting the faith in difficult circumstances but for the wonderful example their Christian life had already given to most of Greece. They have become, he says, “a model for all the believers.” That is what we are called to be and to live. Each of us needs to be an example of the love of God and the love of neighbor. Our task is to learn how to love all our brothers and sisters, not because they earned it, but because they are God’s people.
Our faith is connected to how we live. If we wish to love God, we have must have a care and concern for the vulnerable and needy of our society. Our God is compassionate and so we must be. It is our love of neighbor as it reflects our love of God that will lead us to share in the eternal banquet.
Our Holy Father Emeritus Pope Benedict XIV has written: “In the least of our brethren we find Jesus himself and in Jesus we find God…Love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God…”
Sister Margaret Flood, O.P