the commandment for the hypocrite
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." —Mark 12:31
One of the scribes asked Jesus: "Which is the first commandment?" Jesus answered by stating the first and second commandments (Mk 12:31). Jesus not only gave the scribe more than he asked for, but also picked a most obscure commandment buried in the many detailed commands of Leviticus (Lv 19:18). What was Jesus doing?
The first commandment seems to be something people say more than do. How many times have we said we love the Lord? How many times have we gone to Communion? Yet our repeated sins and lives of selfishness make it questionable whether or not we truly love the Lord with all our hearts.
Many Jewish and Christian believers have deceived themselves about their living out of the first commandment. The second commandment, therefore, has a way of exposing hypocrisy in us. "If anyone says, 'My love is fixed on God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. One who has no love for the brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen" (1 Jn 4:20). It's so easy to say we love God, but to express that love by forgiving, serving, and suffering for very unlovable people seems impossible. When we try to love ourselves and our neighbors, we discover how authentic our love for God is. The second commandment is intended to keep us from playing religious games with the first commandment. Jesus gave us the second commandment to keep us honest.
Prayer: Father, this Lent may I let You remove hypocrisy from my life.
Promise: "Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord." —Hos 14:2-3
Praise: Michelle teaches Scripture to the elderly.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape on Divine Love on audio AV 52-3 or video V-52.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 8, 2013
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