Jesus and his family were Jewish and practiced Judaism as their religion. So Jesus would have been familiar with the words of the Greatest Commandment from a very young age; for the words, spoken by Moses, are from the Book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible and the final of what we know as the Pentateuch. The Sacred Book of Scriptures used by the Jews, which they called the Torah, is made up of what we know as the Old Testament, although in a slightly different order. So these words about loving God were known to our ancestors in faith long before God sent his Son to be born among us. For thousands and thousands of years before Christ, the prophets and faithful leaders among them preached this message: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!
Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.” Imagine that; long before Jesus spoke those words to us, the Jews, the chosen people of Israel, had prayed those words for many centuries. It is amazing to think about how we as a people came to know God - who he is, how much he loves us, how merciful a God he is.
Can you imagine the faith of the people who believed but had not seen or even had the privilege of knowing that God would one day send his own Son to save them?! Humanity’s journey of faith is amazing and inspiring. It has changed the lives of people over many eras of time and yet today, we as a people continue to be challenged to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbor as ourselves, as Jesus so eloquently added. What does it mean to love God with my whole being?
What sort of action am I called to as a child of God?
How have I grown in faith and understanding since childhood about such things? And what does it mean to love my neighbor as myself?
Who am I supposed to consider my neighbor? And if it means the people I share life with in this world, how do I love the stranger, the foreigner, or the angry or unruly people in this world? What is God asking of me, and how am I to respond? We are called to live this message from our baptism into Jesus Christ. Living into our baptism takes a lifetime. We grow in faith as we grow in age and grace and come to know Jesus Christ intimately. Faith is a journey, a journey we travel with many and a journey, that in and through Jesus Christ, brings us to eternal life with God. Let us heed the old sacred message from Moses. Let us live as Christ with one another, loving God and loving our neighbor. Peace and love be yours,
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC