‘You must 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.’
This week’s Gospel almost comes as a bit of a relief after some very difficult parables and scenes of Jesus being put on the spot. This week Jesus is challenged again. His answer isn’t contentious in the strict sense. He does however make an explicit link between two well known commands of the Torah. This is Wisdom Jesus who takes the received tradition and invites his hearers to go deeper. Loving God with all your heart, soul and mind is now bound together with love of neighbour. Where you have one, you have the other.
Writing in the Sixth Century, at a time of instability, St Benedict’s Rule is in many ways an embodiment of today’s Gospel. In the pages of the Rule we find practical incarnational wisdom, where love of God is assumed and love of neighbour cannot be avoided. In Chapter Four, The Tools of Good Works, St Benedict offers his monks a kind of spiritual tool box, containing seventy four tools which are to be used in the monastic craft. The chapter opens like this:
First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul and all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.
I read this as St Benedict making clear from the outset that loving God in the monastery cannot be separated from love of neighbour. It is love and consideration for the other which are the guiding principles in St Benedict’s practical arrangements in the monastery. Whether it’s showing consideration and asking the cellarer for what you need at the appropriate times, or not grumbling when something is not to your liking, these are the ways in which you love God with heart, soul and strength in the monastery.
How is Christ calling you to love in the coming week?