Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
“‘There is no other commandment greater than these.’”
In in the Mystery of the Word made Flesh, God makes clear to us—in the flesh—not only His divine nature. In his human life, God the Son makes clear to us the meaning of the Law of ancient Israel. In the person of Christ Jesus, we learn how to fulfill the great teaching given our fathers in faith.
In particular, if we listen carefully to Our Lord’s summary of the Torah in today’s Gospel passage, we notice that along the same lines that there are two natures in the one person of Jesus Christ, so these two commands make but one single commandment.
Love, quite obviously, is the common denominator between these two commands: “Love the Lord completely,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Understanding these two as one means having Christ at the center of our entire spiritual focus: seeing in Christ our neighbor, and seeing in Christ our Lord and God. And so we are to love others as Christ has loved us. But we must even go one step further. We are to love others so that others will love as Christ has loved us. Not merely are we to give our lives for others. We are to so have an effect on others that they in turn will do the same. But how is this possible? We cannot control the decisions of others. Even if we love them they may hate us in turn.
In artistic images of the Crucifixion, we see symbolically what Jesus is teaching in today’s Gospel passage. In many such images, there are five persons: two above, two below, and Jesus in the center of them all. The two below are invariably Mary and John, who represent the human race for whom Jesus died: Jesus’ human “neighbors”. The above are only indirectly portrayed usually: in such images, two angels stand for the other two Divine Persons, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Among them all is Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who on the Cross shows us perfectly how to love God and neighbor at one and the same time.