The Gospel reading for today tells of the testing and questioning Jesus endured from the Pharisees and Sadducees as they were trying to trip and trap him. They begin with a lawyer asking Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus answered correctly, that the greatest is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. A second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Next, Jesus asked them a question—which left them dumb-founded and unable to answer, so that from that day, no one dared to ask him any more questions! This is the trouble with trying to trap Jesus with our own supposed superior knowledge, intellect and skill—we end up falling on our own swords! We always endanger ourselves when we place ourselves above Scripture and our Lord himself!
We are better off when we simply hear Scripture—and our Lord—calling us to respond. And to what is our Lord calling us today? Surely he is calling us to hear and heed the first and greatest commandment, and the second which is like it.
This Advent season, let us commit ourselves to these two great commandments. May this season be a time of renewing our commitment to “loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind.” As we are burdened and bothered by many things, it can be freeing to set our hearts on this one thing, that all else will fall into place. And then, with love of God as our primary concern, let us turn to our neighbor to help, serve and aid our neighbor in need, not as we ought, but as we are able.
As a parish pastor, I was often asked, “If Advent is a time of preparation, what should I be doing to prepare?” My answer was often, “Love the Lord your God…and your neighbor as yourself!”
Lord Jesus Christ, help us to love one another as you have loved us and given yourself up for us. Amen.
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church