The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself” (Lk 10:27). Additional scripture passages: Deuteronomy 10:12-13; Psalm 133.
The lawyer’s answer may seem simple, drawn from the well-known commandments of God. However, to love God in this way and our neighbour as ourselves can often be difficult.
God’s commandment to love him requires deep commitment and means abandoning ourselves entirely, offering our hearts and minds to serve God’s will. We can ask for the grace to follow Christ’s example, he who offered himself up completely and said, “Not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42). He also manifested his great love to all, including his enemies. We do not get to choose our neighbours. Loving them means being attentive to their needs, accepting their imperfections and encouraging their hopes and aspirations. The same attitude is needed on the path of Christian unity, with regard to one another’s different traditions.
The call to love your neighbour “as yourself” reminds us of the need to accept ourselves as we are, conscious of God’s compassionate gaze upon us, always ready to forgive. Consider that we are God’s beloved creation. Respect yourself. Seek peace with yourself. Similarly, we can each ask for the grace to love and accept our own church or community, with its failings, entrusting all things to the Father, who restores us through the Holy Spirit.
How does the lawyer’s answer to Jesus address the concerns you might have regarding eternal life, or other ‘religious’ questions you might bring to Jesus?
Lord, give us the grace to know you more deeply,
Grant us a pure heart, to love our neighbour as ourselves.
May the gift of your Holy Spirit
enable us to see your presence in our sisters and brothers,
that we may love each other with the same unconditional love with which you love us.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.