The Divine Dialogue of God with the Soul
Weekly Reflection by Mother Marie Julie, SCMC
My Dear Good People,
This week we consider the passage in several Gospels when Jesus is approached by someone trying to trick— even trap—Him with a knotty question. Here He is asked by a scholar of the Law,
What is the greatest commandment in the Law?
Jesus answers him gently, 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 (Matt 22:34-40).
This answer of Jesus would have been very familiar to the Jewish scholar of the Law because it was a prayer from the book of Deuteronomy 6:5 which every observant Jew recited on rising and lying down to rest, and which was worn on the forehead in a tiny container so that this command was ‘always before one’s eyes’ (interestingly, another command which he surely would have known). Today, you can still find this inscribed on the doorposts of many Jewish homes throughout the world. Imagine: our Jewish brothers and sisters recite this by heart from early childhood: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. Would that these words would be the very air we breathe….
Think of it. We are commanded by God Himself to love Him. Who would dare to tell anyone that? What kind of love would it be if it were forced upon us? Yet, God knows we can never be happy if we have not fully set our hearts on Him, so He dares to command us to do something that can only be good for us. And when we love Him with every part of us (other Gospels add, ‘With all your strength’), we discover that we were made for such love. Have you ever said, in the midst of great suffering, ‘What do people do at a time like this when they have no faith in God?’ We know we need Him, and it’s our love for Him that holds us together when we are in danger of falling apart…. The gift God asks of us is really His gift to us.
But there is more. While this scholar asks only for the greatest commandment, Jesus (who we know often clarifies our questions in order to give us the answer we really need to hear), then adds, The second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.
It’s like the first. On the one hand, loving one another is seen by God as the same as loving Him. On the other hand, if we fail to love one another, we must be failing in our love for God, for elsewhere Jesus says, Whatever you do to the least of Mine, you do to Me…and whatever you do not do for them You do not do for Me (Matt: 25:34-46).
The answer to a question which was a set-up to trap Jesus may very well have touched the heart of this scholar. The greatest commandment is to love God. The second commandment is to love everyone else, Jesus told him, and continues to tell us today. Would that we could make this the desire of our hearts: to love Him with every fiber of our being. Then, we could not fail to love one another, made in the image of God.
How dear is this passage that gives us a glimpse into the gentle, merciful Heart of Jesus, who loves you dearly.
Faithfully yours in our loving God,
Mother Marie Julie
and the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church