November 26, 2023

On the Two Important Commandments in the Law (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On the Two Important Commandments in the Law

St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Of the three Gospel readings that you heard this day, I want to focus your attention on the first, for it is extremely important for all Christians, for every person who loves God. So, listen: “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets'" (Matthew 22:35–40).

Remember, remember that everything is based on these two most important commandments in the entire Law: all the prophets, the entire Law, our entire faith.

It is extremely important for every youth, for every young man entering life, to think deeply about the goal that he sets for himself in life, about the ways to realize it, about how to arrange his life, what profession to choose so that it is pleasing to God.

Both he and his parents must make extremely important and difficult choices about the path of life. And you know how often they make mistakes in their choice, you know how often both parents and young people forget other very important words of the Lord Jesus, which you should listen to now: “No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

Mammon is a Syro-Chaldean word that serves as the personification of all the blessings of life, and wealth above all. And you hear that it is impossible to serve two masters. Everyone must choose one thing - either serve God or serve mammon.

And parents often prefer serving mammon for their children, in order to give them a rich life, in high positions - and young people choose serving mammon.

May this never happen to any of you.

Let us always remember the commandment of complete love for God. On this commandment, on observing it, we must always build the path of our life.

Choosing these paths, we must first of all think deeply and delve into the great commandments of Christ - the commandments of the beatitudes, the singing of which we hear at every liturgy. We must be imbued with the luminous parables of Christ and on these two foundations - on the commandments of Christ and His parables - we must build the entire economy of our life.

The first of the two most important commandments, the commandment about our complete, all-consuming love for God, must stand before every Christian all the days of his life, until the end of his days.

Never, never should he forget this most important commandment, and even though he lived in all piety and purity, nevertheless, always before his noetic eyes, in his heart, the fire of this first, most important of all commandments - the commandment of love should burn for God.

However, all noble, worthy people, all good people, who care not only about tomorrow and the squabbles of everyday life - all these best sons of the people understand the truth of God differently.

For those who do not believe in God and in anything spiritual, truth alone is important; they strive for truth alone. To what truth? To earthly truth, to the truth of fair relations between people of every nation; to the truth of fair relations between all peoples - to earthly truth, to human truth. They only think about this.

And we, who have set as our motto the first and most important of all commandments - the commandment of complete and undivided love for God, can we limit ourselves to this? Oh, of course not!

We know that earthly truth, universal truth in relations between peoples is only part of the highest and all-perfect truth. But it is still part of it. And we must participate with everything we can in the creation of this earthly truth.

But we believe with all our hearts not only in this earthly truth, a transitory and imperfect truth, we believe with all our hearts in the highest truth, the perfect, which only belongs to God, in that truth that the saints will be honored to know in the afterlife. And this is what we need to understand and remember: in turbulent periods of human history, people often forget the eternal, all-perfect truth. During these turbulent periods, there is a struggle between people and nations for the possession of only earthly truth, which is always imperfect.

Can we be in complete unity with people of such aspirations?

Oh, of course not! Never, never, not a single day of our life should we forget that there is an all-perfect, eternal truth, which only belongs to God.

And if we happen to be persecuted for this, if they prevent us from confessing with all our hearts, with all our thoughts our Lord and God Jesus Christ, if they even forbid us to confess His All-Holy Name, let us remember the terrible word of Christ: “Whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).

We will never, never deny the Lord Jesus Christ, for we know and with all our hearts believe in the truth of His words about Himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life...” (John 14:6). We will always follow the path of Christ, we will strive for eternal life.

This is what the first and most important commandment teaches us.

And the second is similar to it: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

And this commandment should stand before the eyes of every Christian as an image of his conscience, as a criterion, as a measure of his relationship to his neighbor.

Remember that it is not enough just not to offend your loved ones, not to do harm to them.

God demands much more from us: He demands that we treat them the way we want them to treat us.

Remember, remember this second most important commandment in the Law.

Remember that we sin even when we do not offend our neighbors, do not cause them harm, but when we do not give them our whole heart.

Remember this and, if you yourself notice in your actions a lack of love for your neighbors, then hurry to repent before God.

In this repentance, may the Great Lawgiver of goodness and truth, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, help you. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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