Enabled to Love
In Matthew’s gospel, we read that one of the Pharisees, a lawyer, confronted Jesus with a question in order to put Jesus to the test. He asked: “ ‘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. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets‘ ” (Matt. 22:36–40). Jesus’ response is one of the most foundational teachings in all of sacred Scripture, as it summarizes for us the entirety of the law of God and what our duty is toward God and man. Jesus’ response is astonishingly simple and profoundly comprehensive in all it entails. Upon hearing Jesus’ teaching about loving the Lord with all our being and loving our neighbor as ourselves, we are left feeling like complete failures, for none of us loves the Lord or our neighbor as we should. Yet our ultimate hope is not in our own love but in the love of God for us and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in us. It is only when we are empowered by God’s love that we are able to begin to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (1 John 4:7–8).