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 neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4:7-8)
Jesus makes clear in his response to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” that divine order does exist. By placing the love of God first, he affirms that the structure of God’s creation is founded on love. Love of neighbor and love between human beings, though less than love of God, are inseparable from love of God and still higher than all other commandments. In stating that on these commandments hang all the law and the prophets, Jesus is giving us the context in which all of God’s word(s) must be understood. To understand and interpret any law or pronouncement of God requires us to think and respond with love first; otherwise the knowledge and wisdom gained from obedience to God’s law and will is incomplete. Wholeness that comes through oneness with God is nourished by love. True relationship between persons is accomplished through love. To know God, to know and respond to God’s presence in others, is to respond with love to the love that has first been given to us by God. When we begin with love of God and follow with love of our neighbor, we set in motion inside of ourselves the same processes that move the universe and establish perfect order. These expressions of mutuality define the proper relationship that exists between human beings and God: God is within human beings and human beings exist within God.
Heavenly God, your commandments have been written on our hearts. May we open our hearts to you and to our neighbors. Help us to see the pattern of your love in the world. Where there is pain and suffering help us to bring love; where there is doubt and uncertainty help us to bring faith born out of love; where there is conflict help us to bring peace through love. May the love in our hearts be returned to you God, the source of all love and all that is good and true. Create in us the purity of love that brings us into a state of oneness with your being. May your love fill us with compassion for humanity and appreciation for all of creation. Help us to respond to the love shown to us by Jesus Christ, your son. Amen.