Tuesday, March 22, 2016

It All Hangs on These

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  (Mt 22:34-40 NKJV)

Our Savior, Lawgiver, and Lord, was once asked, “What is the first commandment?”  His reply was “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  And He added “This is the first commandment: and the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Then He said further “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

He then who keeps these, according to the definition of the Lord, plainly fulfills the Law, and he who transgresses them is guilty of transgressing the whole Law.  Let us then examine, before the exact and righteous tribunal of our conscience, whether we have fulfilled the divine commandments.  Now the first is kept by him who guards the faith given by God in its integrity, who abominates its assailants as enemies of the truth and hates heartily all those who hate the beloved.  And the second by him who most highly esteems the care of his neighbor and who, not only in prosperity but also in apparent misfortunes, observes the laws of friendship.  They, on the other hand, who look after their own safety, as they suppose, who on its account make little of the laws of friendship and take no heed of their friends when assaulted and attacked, are reckoned to belong to the number of the wicked and of them that are without.  The Lord of all requires better things at the hands of His disciples.  “Love” He says “your enemies, for if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  For the sinners and the publicans do this.”

Theodoret of Cyrus, Letter to Theoctistus, Bishop of Berea

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