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Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Friday, March 20

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked them, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
—Mark 12: 28-31

Most of us know these incredible words of Jesus as he summarizes the law into two simple commandments. But few of us actually see the amazing depth of what Jesus was saying. The first commandment, to love God, and the second, to love your neighbor as self, are interdependent.

Jesus is reminding us that you cannot love God if you do not love yourself, and you cannot love yourself if you do not love others. He is pointing out the symbiotic relationship between the divine, the individual and the community. In a way that is similar to the Trinity, Jesus is inviting us into the eternal dance between heaven and earth.

The spiritual life is about this commandment. Our disciplines of feast, fast, prayer, study, service and humility are all related to our ability to love God and neighbor. We reach inwardly through prayer, study and worship so that we can nurture the inner life of love.

Finding ourselves loved fully in God, we then are strengthened to reach outwardly in the grace and mercy of Christ. Loving God allows us to love ourselves; loving ourselves commands that we love others.

It's for this very reason that our ability to reach outwardly is directly proportional to our inward life. I can only reach out in love as far as I can reach inwardly in love. If I do not know the love of God for me, my life and my journey, I cannot truly share that life with others.

God invites us toward the miraculous love of Christ so that our life can collide with that of the divine. Jesus calls us to this place of amazing grace where the events of our life go with him to the cross, and just as importantly, to the tomb.

It's there in the events of Christ's love for us that we find ourselves accepted fully in the heart of God. And knowing that love, we are invited to accept it, give it to others, and fulfill the summary of the law Jesus claims for us all.

God, you ask nothing more than to let you love me. Help me to give myself to that love, and trusting it completely, to follow your commandment to love others, self and you as one act of faith. Amen.