A similar passage may be found in Mark, at 12:28-34. We covered that one on this post. The Lucan parallel is in verses 25-28 of that Gospel’s tenth chapter. That brief passage is not given as an option in the Rite of Penance. But this one is:
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together,
and one of them a scholar of the law tested him 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.”
The critical difference in Matthew is that last sentence. Let’s consider it again:
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.
It’s a simple enough message for reconciliation. For Judaism the law and prophets, as personified by Moses and Elijah, are everything. Remember that Matthew presents Jesus as both lawgiver (cf. the Sermon on the Mount) as well as prophet. If we as Christians seek to honor our Lord, we might do well to attend to this, perking up our ears at “law and the prophets,” whenever it’s uttered.
It almost seems too simple when we examine our lives. We could review every action and ask, does it show love for God, or love for neighbor? When we go to confession, we could ask, does this reject God, or reject my neighbor?
We should also note that this reading is one of the few explicitly suggested for Rite II, that for several penitents communally with individual confession and absolution (Rite of Penance, #51). The overarching theme is “Love is the fullness of the law.” The accompanying readings are Deuteronomy 5 & 6, Baruch 1:15-22 for the “psalm,” and Ephesians 5:1-14.
The choice between this reading or Mark 12:28-34 or even Luke 10:25-28 might seem nitpicky, trivial on the surface. But Matthew gets close to the heart of someone who seeks the totality of the call of Christ.
What do you think?