Pretty Simple, Right?
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
What commandment is the greatest? That sounds like a pretty important question for anyone who desires to live in accord with the will of God. The Jewish scholar who posed the question to Jesus most likely had in mind the 613 commandments of the Jewish faith of Jesus’ day. If one were to consider just the Ten Commandments, we would see that the first three commandments reveal that we must love God with all our hearts and all our strength. The remaining seven pertain to how we love and care for everyone else.
Jesus answers the question about which commandment is the greatest by quoting from Deuteronomy chapter six, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And then Jesus quotes from Leviticus saying, “The second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Then he says, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
These two “Great” commandments, as they are sometimes called, sum up the whole of the moral law. Do you want to live right? Then conform your life to these two commandments. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Well, it may sound simple, but it is sometimes rather difficult to live out. Sin, unfortunately, complicates things. Wounded in our human nature, we tend to selfishness, pride, resentment, envy, etc. Thus, we need the help of God to live out these two great commandments.
How does God help us? With something we call “grace.” What is grace? Grace is what is given to us by God so that we might attain eternal life; it is impossible for us to attain eternal life apart from God’s grace, and it is solely due to God’s grace that we can be saved and enter into Heaven. You might call it the power of God’s life and love at work within us. While grace is God’s gift, we must cooperate with that grace because God never forces us to adhere to his will, he simply invites.
You can obtain actual graces through prayer and conversation with God. He may provide you with a certain illumination or insight to help you do good. You receive sanctifying grace, grace that changes your state from sinful to holy, through the sacrament of baptism and if lost it can be restored through the sacrament of Confession. So, to live the great commandments, pray often, read the Scriptures and frequent the Sacraments.
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,