Moses spoke to the people, saying:
"Fear the LORD, your God,
and keep, throughout the days of your lives,
all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you,
and thus have long life.
Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.
Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
so I shall be saved from my enemies.
The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation,
Great triumphs he gives to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his descendants forever.
Brothers and sisters:
The levitical priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
One of the scribes came near and asked him, “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 with 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.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
Scripture says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This fear is the sense of reverence and also dread of offending God. This is obviously what is meant by love for we don’t revere what we do not love. We don’t dread offending someone we do not care about.
So in the Gospel, we see that the scribe loved God by his wise response. Jesus told him that he was not far from the Kingdom of God.
If anyone knows love, they know that it is easier to make sacrifices if it is done for love. The sacrifices we make for God’s sake are our only way of showing our love. So what sacrifices do we make when we obey the commandments to love?
We sacrifice idols that prevent us from true devotion to God and God’s work. We sacrifice our own wills. We sacrifice pride, anger, lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, envy, covetousness, unkindness, impatience, bragging, and unforgiveness. Then when we have made our sacrifices for God, we fight to build the Kingdom by praying in faith, hope and charity.
While that is enough to keep us busy, we know it is very difficult to achieve perfectly. Even if we believe we are purified saints, we are most likely still either blind to our sins or too proud to admit our faults. We cannot say that we love with all our hearts, minds, and strength. Even the most holy must continue to go to God for forgiveness and strengthening to be able to overcome weakness and sin while striving to obey the commandments to love.
If we really love the Lord, we will not become discouraged with our faults and go away from Him, but live in the tension of knowing that our reverence is imperfect while we are determined to see it growing; we will dread offending Him knowing full well that our love is pitiful by comparison to His but that He loved us enough to sacrifice His life for our salvation.