the great commandment

And one of them, a lawyer, asked Jesus a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"

And 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 great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mt 22.35-39)

Among "radical" type Christians, usually we hear a lot more about this second commandment than the first. These last few days I've been contemplating the love of God.

Love is the most successful answer to the question of what we live for. Loving others, loving a woman, loving our child. And I do think those are close to the heart of it, even touching God inasmuch as all true love touches God. But I find myself at times even feeling a kind of despair in my love for others. Perhaps that it is so weak and selfish. And also that it is so often disappointed, by the loss of the other, or sometimes in disillusionment, when I realize that the person is not the ideal I made them out to be. I'm sure others have been similarly disappointed in their love for me.

Love is often spoken of as a duty, or as something we do for others, and I suppose that's true. But love also is a need, not just to be loved but to love. To have a love that's worth living for (or perhaps dying for). So often we try to attach that kind of love to a person, a friend, a spouse, a child. I don't think those can ultimately fill that need, though. We do not love them well, I think, if we try to make them our reason for living.

The love of God, though. The great and first commandment. A commandment to save us from despair. Love for Jesus has been spoken of so often and so tritely that it seems almost embarrassing to mention it. And maybe mentioning it is not what's most important. But if we have truly found a love worth living for (or dying for) then it will certainly be seen in our living.