When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Today’s Gospel reading is the continuation of that of last Sunday. In our commentary last Sunday, we were reminded that Jesus’s answer to the question about paying tax to Caesar or not is about prioritizing our priorities right. And in today’s reading, Jesus tells us how to right our priorities.
Both today’s reading and that of last Sunday is about wholeness. The wholeness touched in last Sunday reading is about the recognition of the sacred value which belongs to God. Today’s reading is about the recognition of our right priorities among our various obligations that will bring us the wholeness.
Because the whole is made up with parts, we can only achieve wholeness through growing in parts. Thus, being human, we all start with a tiny step, one at a time, in our growing journey. It is a great challenge because it takes time and patience, and above all the grace of our God. In a culture of multi-tasking, we can easily get lost in achieving the wholeness.
Meanwhile, we should note that the backdrop of today’s reading. It was in Jerusalem where Jesus decided to come to complete his mission given by his Father. Thus, the reading is not a teaching from Jesus, but the personal experience of his growing journey.
In his journey, Jesus repeatedly rejected the compartmentalization of truth and life as done by the Pharisees and the Sadducees. For Jesus, it is either the whole truth and whole life or nothing. He does not settle for the second best but the best. In other words, what Jesus shows us in the reading is integration and wholeness.
How to achieve the integration and wholeness? Jesus, also speaking from his own experiences, offers us the solid foundation of putting God in the first place that lays claim to our whole selves made up with heart, soul and mind. Once the solid foundation is laid, our relationship with our neighbours, ourselves and the law and prophets will fall into the right places. To put it simple, our foundation is God.
When God is out foundation, we won’t be bothered by our other obligations. If we feel being bothered by our obligations it is because we have not yet given God the top priority in our relationships. Be concrete with our love. Nowadays, “love” means everything and nothing. Note, the reading: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” It is one sentence. And again, it requires the wholeness of heart, soul and mind. This love cannot be separate from the heart, soul or mind. It must be one. It may be helpful to ask us: “Who or what do I love more than any other?” If our answer is “God”, then the next question you should ask is: “Is this the true God, the Father of Jesus?”
Because God creates and loves us all, when we love God more than any other, it is natural that we are in solidarity with other humans or our neighbours. When we are in solidarity with other humans, “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” will fall into place because the God’s salvation, which was first revealed through the law and prophets before Jesus, is for all humans.
Let us begin our journey to wholeness and integration today. Amen.