Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Importance of Two

Today's theme, in both Gospel and New Testament readings, was the importance of two. 

In Romans 13, Paul reminds us that Christ, when asked which was the most important of the laws, responded:  "’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

The first of the two new Commandments covers the first three of the Ten Commandments and comes from a Jewish prayer called the Shema:  "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."  It talks about how we are to love God - "You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve,” “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” and “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

The second of the two new Commandments covers the next seven of the Ten Commandments, and talks about how we are to treat one another:  “Honor your father and your mother,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s property.”

Then in the Gospel of Matthew, Christ tells us, "Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."  If we took this as we are meant to do, can you imagine what we could accomplish?  Christ empowers each of us to do our part, find ways to agree and then ask.  Now, how and when God chooses to respond is, of course, not up to us, but if we focus on the promise that all we must do is agree, we have a tool at our fingertips to reform the world into the vision Christ had.

The power of two seems to be both a huge simplification, and a huge responsibility for people at the same time.  The rules are both simple and quite complex - to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  In this age of internet connectivity, where people all over the world contact people across the globe, "our neighbor" has become a lot broader in meaning - but likely exactly what Christ meant when he talked about it.  Our neighbor is everyone with whom we interact - and our responsibility is to treat each one with care and kindness, as we would hope others would treat us. 

Powerful concepts.

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