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Father Muench Says...

Love God, love your neighbor

March 24, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

“The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

We call these the Two Great Commandments. Jesus was asked by a Jewish scribe to decide which of the Hebrew religious laws is the first among them all. Jesus answers the Two Great Commandments. The Two Great Commandments give us a fuller understanding of the Lord’s message during our Lenten Journey.

It is almost like Jesus was being tested on his knowledge of the Hebrew Law. There were some scribes then who thought there was no way anyone would know all of the Law well enough to answer this question. They had the idea that Jesus was not that brilliant. Jesus was, after all, just an ordinary carpenter. However, Jesus chooses to reach back to the Book of Exodus and responds by quoting the Two Great Commandments. Jesus teaches us, today, that the love of God will always be first among the apostles of the Lord. We Christians affirm this best by demonstrating our love for our neighbor as ourselves.

The love of God demands a strong and confident faith. The faith we have in God will lead us to trust God above all. As those who truly love God, we believe that God will make all things good, God is in control. God watches over us with a powerful and loving spirit. So, we love and trust God ourselves. It is God who leads us to live in the spirit of the Two Great Commandments. Because of Him, we know how to love God and love our neighbor.

I am certain that you all know Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan. As you remember, a man stops to give help to a victim who has been seriously injured by robbers. The man takes care of this victim. He takes him to an Inn to be cared for, a typical response in those days. The important lesson of Jesus’ story is that the man who helped the injured Jewish man was a Samaritan. Recall the Jews had nothing to do with the Samaritans. Jews considered Samaritans enemies. Yet this Samaritan felt it important to help the injured man even if he was Jewish.

The fact that the helper was a Samaritan must have surprised the people who listened to Jesus’ parable. The hero of the story is a Samaritan. Those who listened to Jesus teach the parable and we are encouraged to live just like that Samaritan.

Are we ready to be a loving and caring person just like the Good Samaritan? He took the time and trouble to help the needy, in this case a Jew, a person he should dislike.

Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself.

We are now preparing to celebrate Holy Week and Easter. We remember the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection as we follow Jesus and recognize the Lord’s powerful love. We realize this as we walk with the Lord up the hill of Calvary.

I believe that God gives us opportunities to demonstrate our love for our neighbor each and every day of our lives. Sometimes it may be just a little thing, a simple ordinary thing. Sometimes the opportunity may require a huge, serious effort on our part.

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