When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
I was once visiting a family when the grandmother emerged from her room wearing her best hat…and an apron. “I'm half thinking of going out,” she announced. That moment is now part of the fun history of the family.
To do anything with your whole heart is much easier than to do it with half a heart. It is the same with your mind, your soul, your strength. When you do something with half your heart, the other half fights against you and you cancel yourself out. This inner conflict is exhausting, and the net result is nothing. Once you begin to pick and choose, the trouble begins. Meister Eckhart said, “Sometimes it is harder for you to keep silence about a single word than to cease speaking altogether. And sometimes it is harder to endure a single word of reproach…than a fierce blow; or it is much harder to be alone in a crowd than in the desert; harder to abandon a small thing than a great, or to do a small task than one which is considered much greater.” Another witness: François Fénelon (1651-1715) wrote, “People are wrong to suppose that the death of self is the cause of all the agony they feel; on the contrary, their suffering is caused by the way they cling to life.”
Other Jewish teachers had picked out the two greatest commandments. Jesus was not original in that. The first was the most familiar verse of the Old Testament: the ‘Shema’, Deuteronomy 6:5. The second was Leviticus 19:18. When he quoted the Old Testament he quoted accurately of course. But when he spoke from himself he did not say, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” but “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34; 15:12). There’s a colossal difference.
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