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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Which is the first of all commandments?

What immediately struck me from this question, put to Jesus by one of the scribes in today's reading (Mk 12:28-34) is that the question itself of primary importance. Assuming that God exists as the Church teaches, then it is imperative to ask what his greatest or primary command is. Then it occurred to me as well that this question may well be taken to the wrong extreme of seeking what is fundamental in order to escape the rest. But even so, Jesus does not leave much room to wriggle out of the rest: "Listen, Israel, the Lord, our God, is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The analogy of faith tells us that no component of it stands isolated from the rest of the faith, so we are compelled to recall the admonition from Jesus to observe all that he commanded the Apostles, and so we must keep the fullness of the Apostolic faith. But a postmodern believer might quickly complain that to speak of commandments is old-fashioned and too forbidding to consider. Here also, the analogy of faith comes to our aid, for Jesus equated this obedience to his commandments with love for him. We may well wince at the notion of receiving commands, but here we have someone who is more than worthy to give them: no earthly ruler who is, at his core, no better than we. This Lord is fully God, and has the right to issue commands, not because of his terrible power -- which is indeed terrible and to be feared -- but because of his awesome love, because he is love. Therefore, to circle back to that question, the first of all commandments is to love -- to love him who loved us first.

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