Friday, August 23, 2013

Depend on These Two Commandments

By Melanie Rigney
Ruth said (to Naomi), “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
The fatherless and the widow he sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. The Lord shall reign forever. (Psalms 146:9-10)
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Lord, You ask much of me. Hold my hand as I attempt to live in a way that is pleasing to You.

You would not think twenty-seven words would be so difficult  to weave into our moral and ethical fabric:

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. … You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

And yet, they are so challenging in their simplicity. We don’t get a pass if we don’t happen to worship the same God as our widowed mother-in-law who wants to return to her native land. We do not get a pass in those situations where it doesn’t seem God is aware of our existence because we are in so much pain or despair. As a priest friend once said, if we get those commandments right, we don’t have to worry about much else.

Imagine what the Pharisees thought at Jesus’s answer. In a way, he laid waste to hundreds and hundreds of laws. He even dared to synopsize the ten commandments! Who was this guy to think he could edit all those rules into twenty-seven words?

With apologies to Jesus and Mark and my priest friend, I think we can boil down even further those two greatest commandments, those twenty-seven challenging words. We only need three words to do as God commands, the first three words of the two sentences above:

You shall love.


Write “you shall love” on your to-do list for the day. Live the day in a way that you’re comfortable marking it as complete for the day. Then do the same tomorrow.

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