The Greatest Commandment

When challenged to name the greatest commandment, Jesus recites the Shemà, a well-known Old Testament teaching and important Jewish prayer based on God’s command that man should love the Lord powerfully, entirely, and unconditionally.

Along with the 10 Commandments, the Jewish people at that time followed hundreds of laws from the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.

Jesus reveals that the Ten Commandments and the entire law can be fulfilled in just two commandments; to love God and to love one’s neighbor. The first three of the 10 Commandments are about unconditional love of God and the rest deal with love of others.

Having different levels of priority, the love of God and love of neighbor are nonetheless integral to one another and cannot be separated. Jesus’ teaching is a two-fold but single commandment of love.

Jesus teaches that the first and most important commandment is to worship God alone, making Him the center of one’s life, and loving and serving Him with all of one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Secondary to love of God is Love of neighbor, matching the love for others with the love that one has for oneself. Both love of neighbor and love of self result from the love of God since everyone is created in the image and likeness of God.

Love of one’s neighbor for God’s sake while imitating God’s love for man is clear proof that a Catholic loves God, but loving others with no consideration of God and, without it being a consequence of love of Him, neglects the commandment to love God.

Responding to God’s love with our love:

Redeemed Online

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well He had answered them, asked Him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12: 28-31

The same faith expressed by the people of Israel:

Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA

The highest prayer of the Old Testament:

Good Catholic

What it means to follow the will of God:

Catholic Productions

Living lives of genuine love:

Saint Ambrose

One of them, a doctor of law, asked Him: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” The question makes apparent the concern, present in ancient Jewish tradition, over finding a unifying principle in the various formulations of God’s will. This was not an easy question, considering that in the law of Moses, a good precepts and prohibitions are contemplated. How does one discern, among all of these, which is the most important? But Jesus does not hesitate, and readily responds: “You shall love the Lord your God with your all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment”. Jesus quotes the Shemà in his answer, the prayer the pious Israelite recites several times a day, especially in the morning and in the evening: the proclamation of the integral and total love due to God, as the only Lord. Emphasis is placed on the totality of this dedication to God, listing the three faculties that define man in his deep psychological structures: heart, soul and mind.

Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 26 October 2008

Love of God must come before love of each other:

Fr. Larry Young

When someone asks Him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?” Jesus replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law: The Commandments: “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2055

A summary of the 10 Commandments:

The Religion Teacher

A two-fold yet single commandment of love:


Divine love and human love are intimately connected:

Salesians Ireland

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

A place set aside for prayer:

Godsplaining | Catholic Podcast

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