The Greatest Commandment

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Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time


Matthew 22:34-40 

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to love you with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind; and my neighbor as myself.


Encountering Christ:


  1. Putting God to the Test: The Pharisees prided themselves on being an authority on the law. Allowing room for someone else’s authority, particularly one who had not formally studied, held no degrees, and came from an obscure Galilean town, grated against their pride. Anger or resentment rooted in pride is a common response when one’s status is challenged, and we experience this in our own lives. When Providence permits something contrary to our expectations, we can be tempted to be angry at God. Or when the Church teaches something we don’t agree with, instead of delving into the issue and looking for truth, we assume we know better and reject the teaching outright. It’s important to reflect on how we put God to the test.
  2. The Essence of the Law: History and nations have concocted millions of laws. The largest library in the world is incapable of holding them all. And yet, the Divine Word, the New Law incarnate, proclaimed in a few short words principles that should be incorporated into every humanly created law. All of the prophets through the centuries offered long speeches about warning and the judgment to come, yet the underlying message, if authentic, contained these simple principles uttered by the one who fulfills all prophecies. “Love God above all else, and love one’s neighbor as oneself.” The Law and the prophets hang upon these two guiding principles. So simple, yet so challenging. We do well to examine our conscience daily on these two principles.
  3. A Glimpse into the Trinity: These two commands are no mere external impositions. They are written in our hearts. Made in God’s image and likeness, we are called to live as a reflection of the Trinitarian life. The inner life of God is a giving and receiving, generating love and life. From this inner life, the Lord pours out his love in a creative way. Man becomes the main recipient of this love. Our first response should be a genuine and heartfelt praise to the Lord. And in a spirit of profound reverence, we make of ourselves a gift to others who are made in his image, our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity. May these commands become the most connatural movements of our hearts. 


Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I praise you and glorify you. I adore you in the most Holy Trinity. Grant that, by the first movements of my heart, I will revere you and express my gratitude for all of your creatures, especially those souls who cross my path today.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will seek to offer you reverence in mind, heart, and spirit.


For Further Reflection:


Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”

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