“Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” —Leviticus 19:18
Jesus was asked: “Teacher, which commandment of the law is the greatest?” (Mt 22:36) Jesus surprised His questioner by mentioning not one commandment but two. He surprised all of Judaism by maintaining that loving one’s neighbour as oneself is the second commandment, and together with the first commandment forms the basis of the law and the prophets (Mt 22:40; cf Rm 13:10).
The Biblical context for the second commandment isn’t merely about generally helping out our neighbors or being friendly to them. In Leviticus 19:18, to love our neighbor specifically means not bearing hatred toward them, not taking revenge on them, and not cherishing a grudge against them. So, when Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment, He did not merely add to the first commandment the command to love our neighbour; He also implied a prohibition against hating, taking revenge, and cherishing grudges.
Is there anyone you hate? Do you want to get revenge on someone? Are you holding a grudge? Have you forgiven from your heart everyone for everything? (Mt 18:35) Do you love your neighbour as yourself by God’s standards? This Lent, be reconciled, forgive, and love your neighbour.
PRAYER: Sacred Heart of Jesus, purify my heart this Lent to love the Samaritans and enemies in my life (Lk 10:29ff).
PROMISE: “Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” —1 Cor 3:16
PRAISE: Praise the risen Jesus, Who is the cause of our joy!
(From a reflection by a member of the editorial team of the late Fr Al Lauer’s Presentation Ministries)
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