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Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 30 octobre 2021

Which is the first of all commandments? | St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

# The Great Commandment appears in three of the four Gospels : « 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 first commandment. The second is similar : « You shall love your neighbour as yourself. In these two commandments are contained all the Law and the Prophets »; The first of all the commandments is this one : « Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is the only God. »

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is similar : « You shall love your neighbour as yourself. No commandment is greater than these « ; Luke 10:25-28 : « Then a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to gain eternal life? Jesus said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there? He answered, « You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.

Jesus said to him : «  »You have answered correctly ; do this and you will live. » The Great Commandment combines two precepts from the Old Testament : Deuteronomy : « Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God is Yahweh alone. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength » and Leviticus 19, 18 : « You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The current 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls that this is the first of the commandments (§2196) for Catholics. »

This double monition is also reflected in the dual motto of the Sovereign Order of Malta : Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum (Defence of the faith and assistance to the poor). Immanuel Kant referred to this Great Commandment in Part IV, Section 1 of his 1793 work Religion within the Limits of Simple Reason : The Christian Religion as a Natural Religion : « It includes all duties under one general prescription, which concerns both the internal and external moral relations of man, namely : do thy duty from no other motive than from immediate love of that duty, i.e. love God, love him who decrees all duties above all else ; under a particular prescription, which concerns external relations with other men, and constitutes a universal duty, namely : love everyone as thyself, i.e. contribute to their welfare out of immediate benevolence and not out of self-interested motives ; these precepts are not moral injunctions, but prescriptions of that holiness to which we must aspire, and in relation to which mere aspiration is called virtue.  » The second part of the Great Commandment concisely expresses the golden rule of the ethics of reciprocity.

From the Gospel according to Mark

28 A scribe, hearing the discussion and noticing that Jesus had given a good answer, came forward and asked him, « Which is the first of all the commandments? » 29 Jesus answered him, « This is the first: ‘Hear, O Israel, that the Lord our God is the only Lord. 30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 And this is the second: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.

32 The scribe said, « Very well, Teacher, you have spoken the truth: God is the only One, and there is no other but Him. 33 To love Him with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, is better than any offering of burnt offerings and sacrifices. » 34 Jesus, seeing that he had made a wise remark, said to him, « You are not far from the kingdom of God. » And no one dared to question him any more. » (Mk 12, 28b-34)

 Which is the first of all the commandments ?

« And when one of the scribes heard them talking together and saw that he had answered them correctly, he came and asked him :  » What is the first of all the commandments ? (Mk 12, 28) According to Matthew, this scribe came to Jesus, sent by the Pharisees, and proposed his question to tempt or test him. In the Gospel, this last idea disappears completely and the whole conversation was full of benevolence on both sides.

  »You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. » (Mk 12, 31) Most critics adopted the lesson of Codex Sinaiticus, B, which simply reads : The first is. As for Jesus’ quotation of the great commandment of love, Mark alone prefaced it with the words: « Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.

These words, borrowed from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, are found there in exactly the same connection with the duty to love God. For only one God can be the object of the supreme love of the creature, just as this love constitutes the unity and soul of all the commandments. To these three words, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, which are found in Matthew, Mark added: with all your strength, according to the Hebrew. The commandment concerning love of neighbour is quoted here from Leviticus 19:18.

 And the scribe said to him : « Well, Master, you have said according to the truth, that he is the only one, and that there is none other than he » (Mk 12:32). The scribe’s answer and Jesus’ approval of it are found only in Mark. The scribe took up the principle of the unity of God, which Jesus reminded him of, and adhered to it with conviction. This is not surprising in an Israelite, but what he added about love for God and neighbour revealed the excellent disposition of his heart.

In his enumeration of the faculties of the soul, all of which were to be penetrated by the love of God, the scribe replaced the word thought with intelligence, by which he meant that higher and moral reason which penetrates and embraces the whole relation of man and God, united by love.

« And when Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God. And no one dared ask him any more. » (Mk 12:34) Jesus, who could read the heart of this scribe and knew the sincerity and seriousness of the words he had just spoken, could, in order to encourage him, give him this beautiful testimony, and he gave it back to him with all the more joy and love, since his interlocutor belonged to a class of men generally opposed to his teaching.

To be not far from the kingdom of God is to be close to it, but not yet to have entered it. In order to understand this word, it is obvious that the kingdom of God should not be understood in its future and glorious fulfilment, but in its present, intimate meaning: one is or is not in this kingdom according to the dispositions of the heart. Mark placed it after the talk on the greatest commandment. This conversation must have made a deep impression on the opponents, since one of them declared himself to be in agreement with Jesus on the central point of true religion.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian sites

◊ Monastery of Christ in the  desert :  click here to read the paper → Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Benedictine 

Rev. Francis J. Horn O.S.A. St. Augustine Friary  Villanova, Pennsylvania :  click here to read the paper   → Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

The first of all the commandments

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