Focusing the Gospel
Key words and phrases: love God, love neighbor as yourself, no other commandment greater than these, worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Connecting the Gospel …
To the point: When the scribe asks Jesus which is the “first of all the commandments,” Jesus answers by giving him not one, but two: love God and love neighbor. Further, Jesus connects these two commandments: loving God with all our being is one and the same as loving our neighbor, made possible only by self-giving. Such all-embracing love “is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” of grain or animals, for, when we love as Jesus commands, we ourselves are the “burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
… to the First Reading: Clearly the reading from Deuteronomy reinforces that we are to love God with all our being, the first commandment that Jesus gives in the gospel. While loving neighbor is not as explicit as in the gospel, it is implied when Moses enjoins Israel to follow all God's "statutes and commandments." These spell out how Israel is to live together in community, to care for one another.
… to experience: Despite what much of our contemporary society projects, love is not self-absorbed but other-centered, not transient but the enduring hallmark of all Christian living.