Ah! The greatest commandment. Let’s read the evangelist tell it:
One of the Pharisees, a scholar of the law, tested Jesus by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He 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 greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
In his reflection on this reading in Together For Life, Father Joseph Champlin writes of God drawing a couple together by love. But God also gives us the freedom to express this love or to let it fade and wither.
As mortal beings, we have limits. We cannot maintain strength, heart, and mind toward either God or another human being. Those that tell us otherwise are naive. Any married couple with a cultivated and obvious love are working at it. As is true with the love we have for God, the love we have for a spouse requires a partnership. Fortunately, the marriage has a built-in partnership.
As long as our expectations are that the total burden of the relationship does not always fall on one person, and that together a couple’s love commitment can blossom into a wonderful thing–with work, then what more could one ask?
Who might choose this reading? Couples with an awareness of the role of God’s love in their relationship. Couples prepared to work with full heart, mind, and soul on their marriage. It occurs to me that if a couple has chosen other readings more explicitly alluding to human love, this reading offers a good counterpoint, bringing God into view, and expressing the connection we believe exists between God’s love for us and the inspiration and grounding God gives as we love others.