Friends, our Gospel for today features the Word of God himself telling us what stands at the heart of the Law. A scribe posed, as a kind of game, the following question: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” There were hundreds of laws in the Jewish system, so it was a favorite exercise of the rabbis to seek out the single rule that somehow clarified the whole of the Law.
Then Jesus gives his famous answer: “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
What does that mean? The law is finally about love, and the love of God and neighbor are inextricably bound to one another. If we love God, but hate our neighbors, we’re wasting our time.
Why are the two loves so tightly connected? Because of who Jesus is. Jesus is not just a human being, and he is not just God. He is the God-man, the one in whom divinity and humanity come together. Therefore, it’s impossible to love him as God without loving the humanity that he’s created and embraced.