In today’s Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus is asked by one of the Pharisees which is the greatest commandment. He responds with not one but two commandments – “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Then he adds a second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.
To love God with all your heart means putting him first in your life, all your soul means to give yourself totally to God, all our minds means all of our thoughts and understanding, and all of our strength means with all the energy we have.
Jesus quickly adds a second commandment, as if the first is not complete without the other; love your neighbor. He is saying that only loving God is incomplete if we don’t love our neighbors. As we hear in 1John 4:20-21, “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 Gospel is a great reminder that to only love God is not enough. Jesus needs us to take that love and spread it into the world to our neighbors that so desperately need it. And we must remember that our neighbors are everyone, not just those that think and act like us. If we truly love God with all our heart, soul and mind, then being a neighbor to everyone, especially those that are outcasts in our society, is a natural consequence of that love.
De Colores, Deacon Kevin