Through the ears to the heart. Two commandments, four aspects of love
Photo: KUL Heschel Center
The two commandments of love in fact comprise as many as four elements: hearing, love of God, love of other people, and love of oneself. Hearing is related to God, yet our ears must be open to another person, too – says Director of the Polish Section of the Vatican media and Deputy Head of the Heschel Centre at the Catholic University of Lublin, Fr. Prof. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik in a commentary for Sunday, October 29.
As Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik recalled, On Mount Sinai God gave Moses 10 commandments. Over the course of centuries, as many as 613 different commandments appeared in the Jewish tradition. “Rabbis did their best to explain and systematise these precepts, which was not easy. An average person, uneducated in the Law, could rightly feel lost in the face of such a multitude of regulations” – highlights the Bible scholar.
Today’s verses of the Gospel according to Matthew give an account of a conversation of a scholar in the Law with Jesus, who indicated the most important commandment. A similar excerpt of the gospel according to Mark precedes the commandment of love of God and the neighbour with one more commandment: “Hear, o Israel!” (Shema Israel). This is an everyday, important prayer of the Jews.
Jesus stressed the priority of the love of God and indicated a few practical signs of this love. We are to love God “with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind” (Mt 22:37). As Fr. Rytel-Andrianik observed, “St. Mark indicates in Jesus’ words a power and a force; in the Hebrew original meodeka or loving with all one has”. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk 12:30).
The love of God cannot be incomplete. “Only if our love for God is complete does love for others and ourselves assume its proper meaning” – stressed the Bible scholar, indicating that a true love of God leads towards the love of other people.
We are called to not only love God and our neighbour, but also ourselves. “Loving God and one’s neighbour in the right way enables one to love oneself in the same way. If we do not take proper care of ourselves, of our own health, heart, mind, rest, nutrition, or sleep, then we fail to observe the commandment of loving ourselves” – indicated Director of the Polish Section of Vatican Radio and Vatican News.
Deputy head of the Heschel Centre sums up: “the two commandments of love actually consist of four elements: listening, loving God, loving our neighbours, and loving ourselves”. “Listening refers to God, but our ears must also be open to the other person” – adds the Bible scholar and recalls that “When we really love someone, we not only talk to them, but also listen attentively”.
The full text of the commentary can be found at the website of the Heschel Centre at the Catholic University of Lublin