Friday, August 19, 2016

Reflection: Matthew 22:34-40

Friday of the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:34-40

Today the Pharisees decided to test Jesus. They had heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees. They gathered around Jesus, and one of the scholars of the law asked Jesus: “What is the greatest commandment in the law?” Naturally, Jesus replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” Jesus affirmed that this commandment was the first and the greatest of all the commandments.

Jesus then continued and said: “The second commandment is similar: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Today Jesus asks us to be wholehearted.  He hopes that we love God with our hearts and our minds!  God should be first and foremost in our lives. However, Jesus also tells us to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” Both commandments are challenging. However, the instruction “to love our neighbor as we love ourselves” may be more challenging than the first commandment. The second commandment often stretches us in uncomfortable ways.  We don’t always like our neighbor. Our neighbor may be an individual who has wounded us, insulted us or ignored u, and likely the emotion we experience when we encounter this individual is likely far from love.

Yet, Jesus calls us to love each and every person we encounter ­– the ones we like as well as the individuals we prefer to keep at a distance.  Today, strive to keep Jesus’ call in your mind and heart; consciously work to love each and every person you encounter, no matter how you feel about him or her. Who knows: you may encounter an individual who is consciously striving to love you!

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