St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22 + Matthew 22:34-40
August 20, 2021
“The whole law and the prophets depends on these two commandments.”
When we were little we were expected to memorize the basic truths of our Faith. At the top of the list were the Ten Commandments, which are difficult for a child to memorize. Today’s Gospel passage offers a clue to help us to remember—or to teach—the Ten Commandments more easily.
If not pointed out, we may never have noticed that in many pictures of Moses bringing down the two tablets from Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments are not divided five and five. Rather, the first tablet has the first three commandments, and the other tablet the remaining seven. This illustrates Jesus’ teaching today: that there are, in fact, simply “two commandments”.
On the Cross most especially, in His very Person, Jesus embodies the unity of these “two commandments”. True God and true man, Jesus’ teaching today merely foreshadows what He teaches us on Calvary. Some people teach a piety that promotes complete devotion to God, but ignores or even disdains the corrupted human race. Others teach an ethic that promotes an apotheosis of human nature, but disdains or even altogether denies God. But neither of God’s “two commandments” can stand or be understood thoroughly without the other. Jesus reveals the meaning of each of these commandments in His divine Person, and in His Self-sacrifice on Calvary.