In this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus answers the question posed to him as a challenge from the Pharisees: “Which is the greatest commandment?” He says the greatest two commandments are to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Fr. Gregory explains how we may fulfill these two commandments by referencing the Didache. This was a document from the early church, “the teaching of the twelve apostles,” written around the year 100 or even earlier. The Didache opens with Jesus’ saying from today’s Gospel reading: “There are two ways; one of life and one of death, and between the two ways there is a great difference. Now this is the way of life: first, you must love God who made you, and second, your neighbor as yourself.” This idea of the “two ways” has its origins in Deuteronomy, when Moses tells the Israelites, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life…”
The Didache suggests three things we can do to live out these two greatest commandments, choosing the way of life. First, we can be humble. Second, we can give to those in need, praying for discernment in how to give. Third, we can come to church, confessing our sins and celebrating the Eucharist.
Finally, Fr. Gregory concludes by emphasizing the teaching of the Didache that says, “If you can bear the Lord’s full yolk, you will be perfect. If you cannot, then do what you can.” The church and Jesus have set a very high bar, and the way of life is narrow. However, we must not despair if we cannot always live according to God’s commands. We must do what we can, being humble, giving with discernment, and going to church with a good conscience. This is the way of life.