A Hierarchy of Love

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 12:28B-34.

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
‘He is One and there is no other than he.’
And ‘to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself’
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


The question which among the commandments tells us two things: one, that there are many commandments; and two, among these stands one that precedes all others. The Jews follow the Mosaic Law which contains 613 commandments that dictate on morals, worship, relationships, and even their diet. It was understandable that they should wonder which of these is the most important.

But life is not just about rules and procedures. To live is to live for something. True Christian discipleship possess meaning and purpose which shapes the whole of life. For Jesus, the main meaning of life, of the law, of discipleship, is a two-sided expression of love – the love of God and neighbor. Love shapes the kingdom of God.

There is no greater commandment than the command to love. Love sits at the highest throne in the kingdom. It gives the Christian his identity. It gives the law and commandments its spirit.


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