Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The love for God and for the neighbour
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Mt 22,34-40
That of the Old Testament is a God-centered civilization: the Love (with “A” capital “) was reserved to God. Moses wrote: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strenght” (Dt. 6,4-5). The pious jewish was used to recite these words every day at the sunset, as they were his religious “belief”. Towards the neighbour, in the jewish civilization, there were only a few precepts of good behavior, anyhow still referring to the jewish people: precepts were not contemplated and much less the feeling of the love towards the gentiles. The love for all the peoples, regardless of religion and race, elevated even at the high level of love for God, was introduced by Jesus Christ: “You shall love the Lord, your God ….. The second [commandment] is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. Jesus explains well in the parable of the good samaritan who is the neighbour: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho …. ” (Lk 10,30). He is a man, period. Moreover, the man is the main creature generated by God in his image (Gn 1,27), hence one cannot love God unless he loves by the same way his image. It is a logical truth, but to explain this it has been necessary that God himself came on the earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The history shows that this perfect balance between the love for God and the love for the neighbour, which is sourced from the faith in the Lord, was not always reached just according to the Jesus formulation. Sometimes it moved towards God, sometimes towards other humans. Nowdays, in climate of prevailing secularism, the love – when there is – is moved quite a lot towards the man. The love for God is taken almost as a distraction from the love for the man. The two sentiments, however, coincide also today in those who really bear the faith in the Lord. Indeed, the love for the man is a litmus test to recognize the love for God.