In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! [He is and shall be!]

One of our seminary professors had the same thing to say about virtually every situation we discussed – gentlemen, it’s all about the story. What he meant was that we trace all of our issues back to the Garden of Eden, to Adam and Eve and the Fall. We see what we were created to be, and what we failed to be, and we even have the promise of our redemption, all in the first few chapters of Genesis. Everything, it’s all about the Story. And when Christ is asked by the young lawyer this morning what is the greatest of the commandments, we see him missing the point of the Story.

His question is a set up – the scribes and Pharisees have identified literally hundreds of laws from the Old Testament that the people are required to follow in order to be considered ‘good Jews.’ So Christ is asked this question to put Him on the spot, to make Him pick a particular law and then leave Himself open to criticism and being disproved by the religious authorities. But our Lord delivers the perfect answer – the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind. Above all the laws is the law of love.

Fr. Vasileios – [in the Fall and consequently by our continued sin] man chose himself and rejected an interpenetrating interpersonal love relationship with God. We’re created to live in a relationship of love with our Creator, and with each other [second commandment]. The law, as we understand it, was given to man to form perameters – to give us a safe space in which to live and to grow. The law was to show us how we were created to be; and by living according to the law we would be maximally human. But man perverted the law, and the law became a thing unto itself. So this morning Christ puts it all into perspective – the greatest of all things is to love God. And to love God with everything we are (soul, heart, mind).

Of course, we also have to remember that Christ also said if you love Me, keep my commandments. But this isn’t a legalistic side to our relationship with God – if we truly love Christ, then we’ll strive to do the things that He has called us to do. The Fathers tell us that the law flows from God’s love of us, and as we learn to love God ever more completely, the things He desires for us naturally become the things that we desire for ourselves.

This is a considerably different definition of love than we usually run across in our society today – it has nothing to do with feelings or emotions—it has to do with choice. To love God means that nothing in any aspect of our lives comes before Christ. Christ is where we center our existence. It would be a good exercise for us to undertake periodically, to step back and evaluate our lives in the light of this commandment. To ask ourselves, is anything coming before Christ. Take a look at how we spend our time, what we do with our money, where are our most intense desires focused. And if we do this honestly, we can see places in our lives where perhaps we don’t love God with all of our heart and soul and mind, and then we dedicate ourselves to repentance and reprioritizing so that we can direct ourselves toward the keeping of this greatest of all commandments : Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

AUDIO OF HOMILY

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