Thought of the day
Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday of the Third week of Lent

The two love commandments

Saint Basil (c.330-379), monk and Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church
The Long Monastic Rules, Q 1-2 (trans. ©The Fathers of the Church, 1950)

The two love commandments

Question: We require, first of all, to be informed as to whether the commandments of God have a certain order or sequence, so that one comes first, another, second, and so on?…

Answer: The Lord himself has established order in his commandments by designating the commandment of the love of God as the first and greatest commandment, and, as second in order and like to the first, but more as a fulfilment of it and as dependent upon it, the love of neighbour…

Question: Speak to us first, therefore, of the love of God; for we have heard that we must love Him, but we would learn how this may be rightly accomplished.

Answer: The love of God is not something that is taught, for we do not learn from another to rejoice in the light or to desire life, nor has anyone taught us to love our parents or nurses. In the same way and even to a far greater degree is it true that instruction in divine law is not from without, but, simultaneously with the formation of the creature—man, I mean— a kind of rational force was implanted in us like a seed, which, by an inherent tendency, impels us toward love. This germ is then received into account in the school of God's commandments, where it is wont to be carefully cultivated and skilfully nurtured and thus, by the grace of God, brought to its full perfection. Wherefore, I approve your zeal as essential for reaching the goal…

Now, it is necessary to know that, although this is only one virtue, yet, by its efficacy, it comprises and fulfils every commandment. “If anyone love me,” says the Lord, “he will keep my commandments” (Jn 14,23). And again: “On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets” (Mt 22,40).

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