Commentary on the Gospel of

Fr. Johnson Joseph Thurackal CMF

“Which is the greatest commandment?” It was a theological question much discussed among the scribes. The purpose of the deliberation was to find out (kremanumi is the word used by Mark = a kind of search) the most important commandment from which all other commandments have their origin. To ask the opinion of a famous teacher like Jesus on this question was nothing strange. The answer of Jesus has a clear implication on his disciples and the way they conduct their daily lives.

Out six hundred and thirteen commandments which one is more important?  Is it Sabbath? Profession of one God? Is it the Golden rule? Or ritual purity? The answer of Jesus is noteworthy. “With all your heart love your God and your Neighbor”. Nothing is more important. He ignores all the commandments of Moses and quotes the creed of Israel. “Listen O Israel” – Listen to God who talks to you. He asks you to love him with all your heart. Only then God can become the reference to all the choices. Listen to what he has done in your life. It will inspire you to love Him. Then love him with all your mind – it is not an ignorant or emotional love. But an intelligent, well founded, experiential and unshakable love. Then the second part of it - love your neighbor. Book of Leviticus chapter 11 narrates some acts of love that are to be shown to the neighbor /poor. For example leaving the fallen grains in the field for the poor after harvesting. The purpose was to preserve their life. Loving neighbor is to take a stand in favour of the life of the other. It means to welcome and communicate God’s idea of love. This is possible only by loving one’s neighbor.

These two aspects of love form a single commandment in Jesus’ teaching. St. John writes:  “This is my one commandment that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).


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