“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Reflections by Annette Roux, Retired Pastoral Associate

“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.”


The Lord says that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Love is not primarily a feeling or an instinct; rather, it is the act of willing the good of the other as other.  It is radical self-gift, living for the sake of the other.  To be kind to someone so that he might be kind to you, or to treat a fellow human being justly so that he, in turn, might treat you with justice, is not to love, for such moves are tantamount to indirect self-interest.  Truly to love is to move outside of the black hole of one’s egotism, to resist the force that compels one to assume the attitude of self-protection.  But this means that love is rightly described as a "theological virtue," for it represents a participation in the love that God is.  Since God has no needs, only God can utterly exist for the sake of the other.  All of the great masters of the Christian spiritual tradition saw that we are able to love only inasmuch as we have received, as a grace, a share in the very life, energy, and nature of God.


Reflect : Examine how you love others, searching out any move to indirect self-interest that may exist.  How can you make sure your love "wills the good of the other"?