November 4, 2018
A Scribe asks Jesus, “Which is the greatest of all commandments?” They knew that there are 613 commandments taken from the Mosaic Law and it is not easy to summarize them. Yet Jesus answered this question very cleverly by quoting the scripture. “The first is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength!” (Dt 6:4-5) “The second one is, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev 19:18) For which the scribe praised Jesus and appreciated His wisdom. Whereas, Jesus responds by saying that he is not far from the kingdom. Following all the commandments and loving God and neighbor is not enough.
We need to be one step ahead of the rest. It is like being on que with not enough time to get in. Let us dwell on the basic itself. We are called to love God above everything else. Many a time we are called to witness and we hesitate. Something stops us from loving God till the end. It could be greed, lust, money, power, edition and pride something that stops us where we fail to prioritize. When we put these negative things first we know where it leads and what is the result. Many given life for the sake of faith and did not give up. Jesus places both love of God and love of neighbor on the same level. Both are important. If we love God for us every child is as precious as the other. We will never discriminate. If we trust In God and consider him as our creator then all are so important to us. We love God, then we love his creation, animals and all humans. If we see a child crying for help and if we do not feel the same anxiety and concern if it were to be my own child we are not human we are like animals. Some times worse than animals because we see, at times animals even try to protect the babies of other species.
Very beautifully, Jesus has explained to us how we need both these pillars to be near to the Kingdom. They are like the two sides of the same coin. Like the two bars of the same cross. One horizontal love of God and one vertical love of neighbors both are needed to make us the members of His Kingdom. If I say that I love God and not able to relate to people and have any sort of discriminatory feelings I am contradicting myself. The love I have towards God should reflect in our actions and behavior. Love of God, that does not lead to love my neighbor, is futile and has no value. It is dangerous and it is insane fanaticism.
That too Jesus defines love of neighbor in a very beautiful way in the parable of The Good Samaritan. It was not a priest, not a Levite but a Samaritan. Who is not a Jew, but hated by the Jews and considered pagan, proved to be the neighbor. Meaning anyone who helps the needy person in desperate situation, no matter what religion, color, race and class he belongs to, proves to be the neighbor. Many times, we think neighbor means the one who lives next to my house, across the street or within the same condominium association. That is why Jesus has very clearly said if you throw a party; invite those who cannot invite you in return, those who are on the street, poor and in need of food. If you only share with those who can pay you back and your own event its like the thieves and robbers doing the same. They share among themselves. What big is that? Try doing it to those who cannot return it back to you.
Some time back I had an opportunity to spend some time in a place where the gangsters were living. It was a small place with lots of men. There was a corner of the room where all had their valuables and purses. They had no fear that someone would steel their stuff. Even though all the stuff that they had there was stolen. They cooked together and stayed together and there was a good understanding between them. Everyone shared their resources with each other. That reminded me of what Jesus said, “that those wicked people who steel and rob, also share among themselves.” “What good is it that you only share with those who can share with you?” You are called to do good even to those who do bad things to you. We are called to be one step ahead and nearer to the kingdom of God.