Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

Posté par diaconos le 25 octobre 2023

SNLC 29 Oct 2017E

# The Great Commandment (or First Commandment) is a double precept given by Jesus Christ that appears in the Synoptic Gospels in three different forms. The Great Commandment brings together two Old Testament precepts: « Hear, O Israel: Yahweh, our God, is the only Yahweh. You shall love Yahweh, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength ». (Dt 6:4-5) and « You shall love your neighbour as yourself ». (Lev 19, 18).

The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls that this is the first of the commandments (§2196) for Catholics. This dual admonition 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 refers to this Great Commandment in Part IV, Section 1 of his work : « The Christian religion, as a natural religion, includes all duties, under a general prescription, which concerns both the internal and external moral relations of persons, i.e.: do your duty from no other motive than the immediate love of that duty, i.e. love God, love him who decrees all duties above all else ; 2nd. under a particular prescription, which relates to external relations with other persons and constitutes a universal duty, namely : love everyone as yourself, that is, contribute to their welfare out of immediate benevolence and not out of self-interest ; these precepts are not moral injunctions, but prescriptions of the holiness to which we must aspire, and in relation to which mere aspiration is called virtue.

 The second part of the Great Commandment succinctly expresses the Golden Rule of the ethics of reciprocity. The Golden Rule is an ethics of reciprocity, the basic principle of which is stated in almost all major religions and cultures: ‘Treat others as you would like to be treated’ or ‘Do not do to others what you would not want done to you’.

This form of universal morality is found in the philosophical precepts of ancient Egypt and Greek antiquity, as well as in Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc.), the Near East and the West (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and even in atheistic humanism.

 The most widespread formulation of the Golden Rule in the West is ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’, a Torah or Old Testament commandment expressed in Leviticus (Lev 19, 18), developed in the time of Jesus of Nazareth by Rabbi Hillel and Pharisaic circles, and which Jesus cites (Mt 22, 37-40) as the essence of the six commandments of the Decalogue concerning human relationships (Ex 20, 12-17).

From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Matthew

At that time the Pharisees, having heard that Jesus had closed the mouths of the Sadducees, gathered together and one of them, a teacher of the Law, put a question to Jesus to test him: Jesus replied : « Teacher, in the Law, what is the great commandment ? « 

 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind ». This is the great commandment, the first. And the second is similar: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments. » (Mt 22, 34-40)

The greatest commandment

When the Pharisees learned that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they sent one of them, who was a lawyer, to ask him this question : « What is the greatest commandment of the Law ? » 
Jesus cited the two great commandments of love for God and love for one’s neighbour and added: « All the law and the prophets are contained in these two commandments. The Pharisees, who were themselves victoriously rejected by Jesus, learned that the Sadducees, who had also attacked him, had been silenced, had shut their mouths and left in confusion.

They assembled again, no doubt satisfied that their opponents had been confused over a matter that divided them, that of the resurrection and the existence of angels. So they asked one of them to ask Jesus a question less captious than the previous ones. They did not disarm, because the expression used by Matthew implies, according to Holtzmann and Weiss, a hostile intention: they gathered to conspire, to unite against Jesus.

To love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul, with all one’s mind, means to love him with all the forces of one’s moral being; so that all the faculties of the soul, the affections, the thoughts, the will, the desires, are penetrated and dominated by this love, which thus becomes the sole motive of all actions, of all life. Jesus does not say how man, who is sinful and selfish, manages to love in this way. It is for the Gospel, in its entirety and fully understood by the heart, to teach us.

 He says : « You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. » This commandment of love is the great and first because it contains the fulfilment of all the others and is the very essence of the religious and moral life. This is the great and first commandment.  This commandment is similar to the first in its very essence, insofar as true love of neighbour is but an application of love of God, a reflection of God’s love in us, and also because the practice of this commandment fulfils all our duties, all our obligations to our neighbour.

Loving one’s neighbour as oneself means breaking down the barrier separating ‘I’ from ‘you’, selfishness, the cause of all divisions, and the habitual transgression of this commandment. He who loves his neighbour in this way desires his happiness as his own and contributes to it according to his strength, as if it were his own. A second is similar: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’.

All that is written in the law and even in the prophets about man’s relationship with God and his neighbour, adheres by its very essence to these two commandments, which are their living realisation. With these words Jesus answered the lawyer’s question, who could only approve of him wholeheartedly. This answer is also very remarkable because it shows that, already in the Old Testament, love is the foundation of all obedience.

This is the central point of union between the two covenants. It is only through the Gospel that this love has been more fully revealed by God and more abundantly realised in the hearts of his children.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian sites

Young Catholics : click here to read the paper31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Yoyola Press : click here to read the paperThirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

 Video Click here to vieuw the video

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