Sunday Readings: Exodus 22.20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1.5-10; Matthew 22.34-40
“Teacher, which commandment of the law is the greatest?” – Matthew 22.36
In the gospels of the fall Sundays, Jesus inhabits the temple courts, teaching and disputing questions with other Jewish teachers and officials. The issues — tenants, taxes, and this Sunday, which commandment of the 613 is greatest?
As citizens this fall, we dispute our own questions in the public square as we prepare to elect leaders. By whose authority shall we live? What kind of tenants shall we be on a planet home that is God’s gift and the inheritance of all? Who can our taxes help?
Matthew writes in the mid A.D. 80s after the Romans destroyed the temple, so for his Jewish audience the question intensifies — on what foundation do we build a future? Jesus’ answer is love God with your whole heart, spirit, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself (Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18).
The first commandment calls us to love God with all our heart, spirit, and mind. On what or whom do we set our hearts? We live in mystery, existing without having made ourselves, and for what purpose? How do we listen to our spirit and the Holy Spirit? We can use our minds to envision our farthest goals, to laugh at failure, remember success, to cry, sing, dance, praise, to start over and over. To what use do we out our minds?
Love of God is inseparable from love of neighbor. In God’s creation no one is alien. The fourth to the tenth commandments are the hammer and nails of Christian community.
What sustains your heart and commitment to God? Who that you once considered alien have you come to treat as neighbor? What demonstrates love most convincingly to you?