The lawyer in today’s Gospel asks Jesus Teacher, which commandment in the Law is the greatest? Jesus replied paraphrasing Deuteronomy 6:5: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And then adds: This is the greatest commandment. Jesus then adds: and a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Many today think loving neighbor is enough, doing good works for neighbors is enough. But Jesus said On these two commandments hang all the Law of the Prophets. This means we cannot love our neighbor without loving God. And we cannot love God without loving neighbor. The First Reading shows us loving God should be the basis for loving neighbor. We love our neighbors because God loves them also. We are not saved because we earn points for doing good works. We are saved by God’s grace through faith proven by our actions. If my idea of salvation is doing good work to enter heaven, I am missing God’s message. God tells us in the First Reading, if you abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry… and if that person cries out to me, I will listen for I am compassionate.
We do not do good for the sake of doing good. Neither do we do good because we are afraid of God’s punishment. But we do good because of our love for God. Our main focus must be to serve God first, before serving neighbor. Our hearts’ desire must be to serve God first, otherwise, if our main objective is to serve our neighbor, we make our neighbors our idols. If our neighbors become the purpose of our service, we make them gods. Serving God does not mean only serving in the Church. Serving God means doing what he wants us to do. This is done only through prayer. I may have my own ideas of service, but these should also conform to God’s will. If I have good intentions and want people to do what I want, my intentions and my will become my idols. We serve God the way he wants, when he wants, how he wants.
St Paul commended the Thessalonians in the Second Reading on how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven. Loving neighbor should be the fruit of our love for God.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, You cannot serve both God and money. This shows that faith is worshiping God and serving him. This worship shows itself in our good work to neighbor. Which is why it is the love of God and love of neighbor is where the Law and Prophets hang.
Lord, help me to love you. Help me to realize I am to serve you first, the way you want. Let me surrender my will and desire and let me listen to you lead me to where you want me to go, so I can love you and my neighbor.