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Updated on November 4, 2011

The Greatest Commandment


What is love? During the first week of this month as we started Respect for Life month, I have shared to many parishioners how important it is to have a clearer understanding of what this word really means. As Catholics, our own understanding must always be patterned after the very examples of Christ.

I heard this very interesting story from one of the speakers during our 1-week Convocation in Monterey early this week:

A married couple was on vacation and as they shared wine together at table, the wife suddenly said, “You know how sweet you are and how much I really, really love you, right?” The husband was surprised about the remark coming from his wife and so he responded, “Oh, is it YOU talking or is it the wine?” The wife with a smile on her face replied with confidence, “Oh, dear, it is me TALKING … TO THE WINE!”

Moral of the story? Do not buy good but cheap wine during your honeymoon! As we understand the true essence of love in our Gospel this Sunday, it is also important to know to whom such love is directed to. Is it me loving the person who drinks the wine or me loving the beautiful wine? Let me point out the two significant aspects of the greatest commandment as Jesus puts it:

First, as the Scripture narrates it, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Luke10:27) Loving God in such a way means putting God above anything else. He must always be first priority in our lists of priorities. As His creatures, we should realize dependence on Him believing that we could not do anything without Him. We should therefore keep the commandments by first acknowledging His Lordship through prayer and worship and exercise the so-called ends of prayer: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication (ACTS). In other words, fulfill our duties to God (vertical dimension) not so in order to please Him as He doesn’t need that, but to express the same love that He gave to us from the very start.

Second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Seeing an Almighty God who is loving, merciful and kind, we should also see Him in our neighbors, who are by nature a reflection of the goodness of God. Loving our neighbors entails our unceasing support without any reservations as well as prejudices in terms of color, race, gender, age, wealth or social status. Jesus has loved us unconditionally and as a model we are also asked to follow suit.

Together with this is, of course, the important aspect of conversion or a change of heart which starts through forgiveness of oneself as well as others. Time is so short to hold grudges on our neighbors. True forgiveness begets peace, love and an ongoing love for mankind. When we forgive, we give ourselves in humility in order that peace may prevail and that we become worthy sharers of such peace.

Love in the Christian perspective is the “total giving of oneself to another.” By total, we mean, WHOLE, ENTIRE with neither reservations nor conditions … it is ONE! That is why in marriage, the TWO become ONE because they both share in the one love founded on God, who is a communion of THREE Persons, and yet ONE in God-ness. This Sunday, let us make sure that we exercise our duty to love in the way Christ have set as an example. Let us exercise our love in total self-giving. Let us love God and our neighbors. Our neighbors, which could include the “aliens” (first reading: Exodus 20:22-26) among us: the oppressed, the poor, the neglected, the needy, the immigrants as the reading imply. So are you ready to love? Are you ready to give yourself totally to your neighbors? Is it you LOVING the one who drinks the wine or you LOVING the WINE DRINKER?


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    • giopski profile image

      giopski 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      @Dave. Not a problem that's what we're here for in order to clarify and sort things out in order to reach a common understanding. You have a lovely week ahead of you.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Thank you for pointing this out to me as a correction. Indeed they do not repeat but summarize. Sorry for the wrong term.

    • giopski profile image

      giopski 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      @Dave. As far as my Catholic education is concerned, these 2 great commandments summarize the 10 commandments: the first "Love God will all your heart ..." for the first 4 of the 10 commandments and; the second "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" to comprise the remaining commandments. They are not redundant as they don't repeat the other 8, but rather sum up the thought of the 10 commandments. I do hope you know this too very well. Tc

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      My Catholic friend: Thank you for the reminder.

      Are you aware that "IF?" you follow just these two Commandments from God and Jesus, that the other eight commandments given to Moses, become "Redundant". If you are not aware of this, you should be.