sexta-feira, 13 de janeiro de 2017


Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
All the Law and the Prophets
hang on these two commandments.
Matthew 22:37-40 (read 22:34-46) - NIV

It is difficult to speak of love without trivialities. It is one of the most discussed and least experienced subjects. The text highlights love. I approach it with the fear of perpetuating banality. Jesus is talking about the basics, the essentials. It is important to understand the heart and mind of Jesus' message.

Maybe we’re like the little girl, Cynthia, who wrote a letter to God:

Dear God,
I bet it is very hard for You to love all people in the world. Our family has only four people and sometimes I can’t do it.

We cannot speak of love without first defining it. In popular usage, love has connotations of sentimentalism such as: adoration, passion, affection, etc. But love (agape) in the Greek New Testament means "to desire the good of others". That in itself is impersonal, but Jesus carried it further to include the meaning: "to exercise compassion”. The spirituality of Jesus is "com-passion" (to suffer with) or share the pain of others.

Such a love would be holistic, including heart, soul and mind. It would produce an integrated life, recognizing the Divine in all areas of living. The opposite would be schizophrenic love in which we divide our lives into separate compartments such as church, world, spiritual, material, discourse, practice, belief, action, cult, work leisure, etc.

Many people have invented a separate, tyrannical God who issues decrees, gets pissed-off and zaps people when they don’t live up to His expectations. Therefore, a penal solution is necessary where atonement must to be made to compensate for offences. This concept makes Jesus to be only the “sacrificial lamb”, being a go-between in order to satisfy justice. God and humanity remain separated. But with a broader understanding of God as being Love, the compassion of Jesus becomes an example of at-one-ment (oneness or union) among people and with his Daddy God.

In modern terms compassionate love could be defined as the state of “oneness” with all that surrounds us. This oneness would enable us to love not only our neighbor as ourselves but see ourselves as part of all that exists. Compassion implies “feeling along with” and helps us to have a positive and creative relationship with the entire world in which we live. I would extend at-one-ment beyond the Divine and human realms to include all of life.

The theologian and historian *Karen Armstrong writes, "All the religions of the world claim that spirituality has value only when it results in the practice of compassion." But in practice religions generally fail to achieve their ideal. The value of a religion is not in its belief but in the quality of life it produces. Christians attach great importance to doctrine. Protestants and Catholics are separated because they have differences in church doctrine. There are divisions between Protestants because of different interpretations of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees put religious practices above the welfare of human beings. In contrast Jesus said that the legal norms of Moses and the prophets of social justice are founded in love.

Love (compassion) is above any religious doctrine or practice. Laws and rules exist because of the lack of love. With love, there is no need for them. Each person would spontaneously contribute to the collective welfare. The problem is that, once created, laws, rules and doctrines are placed above love. We idolize our systems and harm others in order to preserve them. Instead of compassion we practice correction or punishment. But according to the NT, "The greatest of all is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13) This should be our goal.

*The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (I recommend the reading of this book to better understand what is happening on the international scene).


Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Whose Son Is the Messiah?
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet.”’
If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

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