Matthew 22:34-40
Rules of Love by Rev. Paul Grankauskas
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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Matthew wrote to show that Christ was the
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them (a scholar of the law) tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"  He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

I once read a “Frank and Ernest” comic strip featuring Moses presenting the Ten Commandments to the Israelites.  Someone asks him a question and he says he will go and God for the answer.  Up the mountain he goes; down he comes.  He tells the person, “Yes you have to obey them all,”

If we think about the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments – there are a lot of negatives: “Thou shall not kill,” “Thou shall not have any other gods beside me,” “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  But each of them is rooted in love – love of neighbor and God.

How can we love the Lord our God?  By having no other God but the one, true, living God; the Father who created us, the Son who redeemed us, the Spirit who sanctifies us.  We do not worship creatures, but the Creator.  We put each thing in its proper place.

How else can we love God?  By honoring His name – the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  God is not some impersonal force.  He is one God in three divine persons.  When we invoke His name, we invoke these three persons.  We do not take in vain the name of Him we call “Abba” or “Father.”

In the same way, I love my neighbor when I respect and honor his name and reputation.  Love leaves no room for idle gossip, calumny or slander; for bearing false witness and destroying a name or reputation with harsh words.  If I love my neighbor, I do not have the right to rob him blind or take his life.  Love is about seeking the good of another and the commandments point the way.

Love is at the heart of the commandments.  Love is the heart of personal relationships.  Through the commandments, we can enter into a loving relationship with God.  He has taught us His commandments in various ways.  He wrote them on each human heart, what we would call natural law.  He spoke to us through the Law and the prophets, and through His own Son.

He gives us His Spirit to direct our hearts and minds to Him.  He loves us dearly enough to make sure we are not ignorant of the path to life, the path that leads to His side.  He will not force us to keep those commandments.  His love for us is too great to do that.  But He gave us the commandments to show us the way to life, and the Spirit to help us follow them.

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