Today’s daily lesson comes from Mark chapter 12 verses 28 through 31:
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, There is no other commandment greater than these.”
When asked for the single greatest commandment Jesus gave two. Paraphrasing the law and combining two separate commands Jesus said, “Love God and love your neighbor.” In other words, we cannot do the former without doing the latter. Love must be extended horizontally as well as vertically.
But let us not miss something else very important here. Quoting the book of Leviticus, Jesus said we are to love our neighbor — as ourselves. Implied here is a third commandment — that we love ourselves, that we truly and deeply fall in love with ourselves, and that we learn to do so rightly.
But isn’t the love of self our whole problem? Don’t we need to quit loving ourselves and our own selfish ways? The medieval monk St Bernard of Clairvaux is helpful here. He talked about there being Four Loves. And a good question to end on is which of his Four Loves are you loving with:
1. The love of self for self sake
2. The love of God for self sake
3. The love of God for God’s sake
4. The love of self for God’s sake
Far be it from me to presume to add to the saints, but according to the lesson today perhaps there ought also have been a fifth love:
5. The love of neighbor for neighbor’s sake, for God’s sake, and for self sake.
That is indeed the greatest commandment – what I would call the summa bonum of Love.
It’s good to be back home friends.