The Greatest Commandment in the Bible – Matthew 22 34 40 – Meaning and Commentary

1. Introductory prayer

I calm down and I feel the presence of God in me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open the word of God, I accept it and allow it to fulfill my mission in me, in order to become more and more what I am in Holy Trinity. Then I ask God for this prayer, in my own words, or with those that are here…

God loves us without limits, each of us, so He gives us generously, abundantly. He hears our needs and distresses, to Him they are all worth hearing. Lord, may my heart be silent to hear you showing me the way, the path of love for one’s neighbor, as well as for oneself, for I can love my neighbor as much as I love myself. Show me what it means to love yourself, for you love me to infinity, and what it means to pass that love on to others.

2. Reading – Listening: The greatest commandment in the Bible – Matthew 22 34 40 – Meaning and Commentary

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

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37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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3. Thoughts on the Gospel – The greatest commandment in the Bible – Matthew 22 34 40 – Meaning and Commentary

The Pharisees boasted of their knowledge of the commandments and regulations in the law. All their lives they studied the 613 commandments thoroughly along with numerous comments from the rabbis. The religious authorities checked Jesus to see if he understood the laws as they understood them.

Jesus, however, summed up all the commandments into the two greatest commandments, namely, from Genesis 6.5 and Genesis 19:18. God’s love directs and guides everything. His love is holy, just, and pure because He seeks only that which is good and useful to man and creation. That is why God commands us to love – to accept and give only what is good, loving, just, and pure, and to reject everything else.

God is love and everything he does comes from his love for us (1 John 3: 1; 4: 7-8: 16). He puts us first in His thoughts and worries. He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Our love for Him is a response to His infinite goodness. So the love of God comes first. Love of neighbor, however, is firmly rooted in it. The more we are aware of God’s love, truth, and goodness, the more we love what He loves. He wants His love to direct and guide our thoughts, intentions, and actions toward others. Love is a gift when we give ourselves to another, when we are with everything directed towards him, for his good and benefit. Love, rooted in pleasure and the pursuit of self-interest, is selfish and possessive. Such leads to many painful and sinful desires such as jealousy, greed, envy, and lust. It places us above God and our neighbor and encourages us to serve ourselves instead of serving God and our neighbor.

God loves us fully, completely, and for our good – infinitely, without restraint. His love does not change about circumstances. When God gives, He gives generously, abundantly, freely, and unconditionally. His love is firm, consistent, and constant. God also loves us in our weakness, in our fallen and sinful condition. God the Father always loves us and seeks to reveal His love to us and to make us partakers of His merciful and forgiving love, so that we may become as merciful to others as He himself is (Luke 6:36).

Faith in God and hope in His promises strengthens us in God’s love. The more we know about God, the more we love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we believe and hope in His promises. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus gives us new freedom so that we can love as He himself loves us. The Apostle Paul writes, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ”(Gal 5: 1,113). Does anything keep us from God’s love and joy of serving our neighbor through love?

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4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • Where in my life do I perceive God’s love for me?
  • “Love your neighbor as yourself.” God already loves me. How could I pay attention to myself this week to live God’s love for me? I will then be able to pass this on to others.
  • What do I notice in relationships, if I am loving myself?
  • If I let God take me into silence, what could I hear?

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me. Perhaps from this silence, I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

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7. Action

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving, and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action).

8. Prayer at the end

Thank you for teaching me that love is a gift. Thank you for making my fears subside and for you to lead me in trust, for you are my rock and my refuge. Thank you for being the first to love me and to come every time with compassion so that I can love myself and others.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel with the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings, and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. With a prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home – ignacijevdom.si

Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)

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