Next Exit, The Kingdom of God
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing
with one another [Jesus and the Sadducees], and seeing that he
answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the
first of all?"
Jesus answered, "The first is, `Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all
your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, `You
shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment
greater than these."
Then the scribe said to him, "You are right,
Teacher; you have truly said that `he is one, and besides him
there is no other'; and `to love him with all the heart, and with
all the understanding, and with all the strength,' and `to love
one's neighbor as oneself,' --this is much more important than
all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said
to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
After that no one dared to ask him any question.
Love God and Your Neighbor as Yourself
Jesus profoundly mixes two separate commandments, winning
the admiration of this scribe and the respect of the other present
(since no one dared ask him any more questions). His synthesis
is original, yet captures the essence of Jewish monotheism and
law. In addition, Jesus' definition of neighbor (recall the parable
of the Good Samaritan) extends these commandments to all people.
May we understand that love of God does not exist without the
love for others.
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