DON’T FORGET WHAT’S ESSENTIAL
It wasn’t easy for Jesus’ contemporaries to have a clear vision of what constituted the nucleus of their religion. The simple people felt lost. The Scribes talked about 613 commandments contained in the law. How to orient oneself in such a complicated web of precepts and prohibitions? At one point the question reached even Jesus: what is most important and decisive? What is the main commandment, the one that can give meaning to the rest?
Jesus didn’t stop to think twice, and he responded, remembering some words that all Jewish men repeated at the beginning and the end of each day: «Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind». He himself would have pronounced these words that very morning. They helped him live centered on God. This was number one for him.
Right away he added something that no one had asked him about: «The second commandment is: Love your neighbor as yourself». There’s nothing more important than these two commandments. For Jesus they’re inseparable. You can’t love God and have nothing to do with the neighbor.
Many questions occur to us. What is love of God? How can we love someone whom it’s impossible even to see? To talk about love of God, the Hebrews didn’t think about the feelings that can be born in our heart. Faith in God doesn’t consist in a «state of mind». To love God is simply to center our life in God in order to live everything from God’s will.
That’s why Jesus adds the second commandment. It’s not possible to love God and to go about forgetting the people who suffer and whom God loves so much. There isn’t a ‘sacred space’ in which we can «be understood» alone with God, turning our back on others. A love of God that forgets God’s sons and daughters is a big lie.
Christian religion today ends up complicated and difficult to understand for more than a few. In the Church we probably need a process of concentration on what’s essential in order to let go of secondary additions and stick with what’s important: loving God with all my energies and loving others as I love myself.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf