16 Oct 2022
The Gospel. St. Matthew xxii. 34.
When the Pharisees had heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
The Gospel lesson for today reiterates the summary of the commandments of Christian life which we hear during the Holy Communion service: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength," and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Though we understand what Jesus is saying, it isn’t an easy way to live. But when we agree with these sayings in our hearts, we are committing ourselves to try every day to live up to the standards Jesus has set for us Christians.
Today, in these critical times, we need to remember that the proper relationship with our neighbors can’t be worked out unless we have put the love of God in first place. It is through our love of God that we are enabled to open our hearts to Jesus, and then it is through our devotion to Jesus that we are able to love God in the right way as Christians. It is really a matter of putting things in the right priority order.
What, then, does it mean to love God with all our heart, soul and mind? It is total commitment. We must worship Him with our whole selves. Partial worship is like a poorly running car. You know that some people only worship God with their emotions, but not with their thoughts. Some love God only on Sunday but forget Him during the work week. Some love Him only in their home but forget Him when they walk out the door. No wonder that some people find their faith “slipping out of gear” as they struggle with the uphills and downhills of life.
We need to be careful also how we understand the second commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” or “as being yourself.” It is often misinterpreted, “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself,” but that misses the point. This isn’t making comparison with the human trait of selfish love. We are called to love our neighbor recognizing him or her as another creature made in God’s image. It goes beyond acknowledging our likeness in them. If we look carefully and spiritually, we can actually see the Lord’s face in all the others—especially those who are our neighbors—like the man the Good Samaritan cared for.
Jesus asks the Scribes and Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?” They are not prepared to answer this question on a Scriptural basis. They just want the Messiah to be a strong man, a kingly figure who will free Israel from the yoke of the Romans. However, Jesus cites King David’s words in the book of Psalms, and David uses the term Lord for the Messiah. That means that the Messiah can only be divine and that is not something the Pharisees and the others are willing to say about Christ.
So, “What think ye of Christ?” Today, more than ever, we are challenged by this question. What is Jesus Christ doing in our lives? Where have we placed Him? Do we recognize Him as present in everything we say and do and think? Are we prepared to confess our love for Him before a hostile, angry, and sneering world? We pray together for this strength every day. The Holy Communion service inspires us to a greater love for God and our neighbor. It builds us up to be the Christians we should be. It ends with this blessing: “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God.” Amen! Let us all find and keep that peace in our hearts.
Bishop Edwin Tompkins
Awake, awake to love and work
Awake, awake to love and work!
the lark is in the sky,
the fields are wet with diamond dew,
the worlds awake to cry
their blessings on the Lord of life,
as he goes meekly by.
Come, let thy voice be one with theirs,
shout with their shout of praise;
see how the giant sun soars up,
great lord of years and days;
so let the love of Jesus come,
and set thy soul ablaze.
To give, and give, and give again,
what God hath given thee;
to spend thy self nor count the cost;
to serve right gloriously
the God who gave all worlds that are,
and all that are to be.