Love or Ritual

In the Jewish tradition, there are 613 laws known as mitzvot, all of which are meant to show their love for God. Humanly speaking, this can be very hard and very confusing. How does one show love for God with all these laws? Perhaps, the question of the scribe is the most practical, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”

Look at the response of Christ:

  • First, He says: “Hear, O Israel.” In order to show our love for God, we must know His commandments, His advices, His promises, His Words, His story and His warnings. 
  • Second, He says: “The Lord our God is Lord alone.” If there is someone or something more important than God, then we cannot love God. Jesus only told us that in this life, we cannot have two Masters. We will love one and despise the other.
  • Third, He says: “Love your Neighbor.” Notice it is not a separate commandment but one that is attached to the first one. We can only truly love God, if we love our neighbor. 

Once I joined a procession during Holy Week in a small town when I was a seminarian. We went around the town, praying and singing – very nice and very solemn. When the procession reached the Church the priest blessed the Carozas. After which, suddenly, there was chaos. People we shoving each other, people were arguing and whatever solemnity that existed, was all lost. I asked what was happening? “They are getting the flowers because they are blessed and will bring good luck.” The first thing that went into my mind, “Since when did flowers become more important than human beings?”

Let us remember, Love for God and love for neighbor.

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