Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Great Commandments

Jesus teaches two great commandments: first, love God with all your heart, mind and soul; and second, love your neighbor as yourself. These two commandments are meant to integrate the entirety of Jewish law within him and to bring his followers into direct contact with God through him. Jesus teaches that his presence in the world as God supersedes the law of Moses, which has kept the Jews united as a race but has not been successful as a medium by which one loves God. Jesus continually testifies as to the failure of the law to make the first great commandment more fruitful.
To love Jesus is to love God. The presence of Jesus as a human being makes loving God more possible. For most who have come to recognize the co-existence of Jesus and God, many have found that loving Jesus goes a long way in loving God with heart, mind, and soul. Loving one's neighbor, however, is something else. It is easy to link these two commandments together, but they are not fully compatible with each other. Loving God through Jesus contains within it a mystery which defies human faculties. Something is at work which human sensibilities cannot grasp. Nevertheless, without a sense of something greater than human life, human existence is empty and without value. After two thousand years of pondering the second commandment, which human beings can engage more purposefully, most have concluded that fulfillment of that commandment is impossible.

And yet loving God cannot succeed if the human aspect of love is pulling against it. There is a paradox at work here. Human love is about human beings engaging with each other. The love for God which one senses within one's love for Jesus brings one into contact with the intimate and real relationship between God the Father and God the Son. To love God as it is addressed in the first commandment is to come closer to the love between Father and Son. Those who make it their life purpose to fulfill the two great commandments come closer to that event through those efforts. The love between Father and Son is cosmic. It is the real event, the eternal event, the fulcrum around which all events in the universe move. Loving God means coming into the presence of the love between God the Father and God the Son, who are the same being.

The fulfillment of the two great commandments in human beings comes only with the realization that their fulfillment is available only through Jesus, the Son. These two commandments are the reality that exists between Father and Son as it overflows into human life. Jesus cannot see it otherwise.

God is reality. Jesus is reality walking on the earth. That reality has not diminished in the two thousand years since Jesus' death because reality can never not-be. Reality is reality even before it became Jesus. Jesus' love for God, and God's love for him cannot be grasped from within the human condition because the relationship between Father and Son is the very thing itself. God the Father is the indefinable mystery of pure existence. The Son is that reality demonstrating to itself what it is. This condition always is. The Son reveals what the Father is through eternal adoration and prayer. Jesus teaches that only the Father knows the Son and only the Son knows the Father.

Jesus offers human beings the hope that the something inside them, the something that is real, can express itself in their living. A human being cannot step into the relationship which the Son has with the Father. That relation is unto itself; it is inviolable and irreducible. Neither can the Son, walking upon the earth, step out of the relationship he has with the Father. He can know human existence only from within that relationship. What Jesus teaches in the great commandments is a way for human beings to surrender their human existence, which is bound by pain and death, in favor of a direct perception of reality, which is the eternal relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Direct knowledge of reality is the kingdom of heaven.

The two great commandments are Jesus' offering to the human race from within his reality. Only Jesus can completely love the Father with heart, mind, and soul; only Jesus can love his neighbor as himself. Those who have passed through the naked fire of loving Jesus, who are very few, will have that opportunity to know what that is through their life in the kingdom. Only in gratitude for a vision of that reality can a human being truly love Jesus and fulfill the two great commandments.