- Sermon 43 -
Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity. The Greatest Commandment

t. Matthew XXII, 34-40: "But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

(April 24, 1872)

Concerning My reply to the Pharisee's question: "Which is the noblest commandment?" you have already been told quite a lot, and actually it would not be necessary to add any more regarding the two commandments of love: LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL AND YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF. However, since it is mentioned here specifically as a Sunday sermon, and since the Pharisees and scribes put Me to the test in an endeavour to find a point of accusation against Me, as My activity and My truths were annoying them, let us take a closer look at these two commandments. I shall explain to you in more detail the situation as it was then, as well as its spiritual analogy for the present time, so that you may find it easier to understand the correlation between My words and actions then and the present events.
In the days when I walked on earth the priesthood was as ambitious and greedy as it has been ever since, and anyone who wanted to limit or even destroy their power was, naturally, an enemy of the church because he was an enemy of the priests, tending to turn the people against them. This they would have felt very much where their influence was concerned, but even more so in their purse. So every time a teacher like Me appeared, whom they could not oppose very much because of the clarity of his words, they were intent on handing him over for punishment - under some pretext - to the existing political institutions as a dangerous rebel. In this they also succeeded, as the time of My ministry on earth was drawing to a close. Earlier, I had always evaded their traps, either in person or through well-considered answers to their insidious questions.
In this chapter, you find various questions and attempts to implicate Me with the authorities, so that they might achieve their purpose without its appearing as if they were responsible for My arrest, because they feared the people who were attached to Me and followed Me. Therefore, they came with questions like the one about the tribute money and other similar ones. Also the question by one of the scribes: "Which is the greatest commandment?" was intended to trap Me, for this man expected from Me an answer which could be interpreted as disregard of the existing secular laws, whereupon the servants of the governor would have had a weighty reason for handing Me over to the courts. However, since I already knew their thoughts and designs in advance, I took good care not to give them any cause for false accusations. My answer turned out in accordance with what is contained in their laws, only My interpretation of these laws differed from theirs. The application of these laws and the way I wanted them to be followed was also different.
The two sole and most important commandments were also contained in the Mosaic laws. However, the interpretation and explanation by the priests was so one-sided that the spiritual man derived little benefit from them and found it difficult to find the right approach to Me and to his fellowmen as well as to all creation, a relationship which still today is comprehended only by few as it should be from a spiritual point of view. In those times, people stuck to the letter and now, after almost 2000 years, they are still scrupulously sticking to it like flies to a lime-twig, anxious to be free, but lacking the strength to free themselves.
Although I called these two commandments the greatest, the Pharisee understood them as little as the answer to My question: "What think ye of Christ?" The answer was quoted from a psalm of David and showed them in perspective that ultimately everything will be subject to Me, the Lord of Creation, becoming a footstool for My feet to rest, which means, upon which My teaching will be erected as an edifice.
What it means to "love God above everything" only few comprehended then and only few do so now. And to many people it is not clear at all what is meant by the words "to love one's neighbour", a supplementary commandment to the first one.
To "love God above everything" is a phrase that is easy to say, but not so easy to understand and even harder to carry out. Here we must ask: "Why should men love God above everything?" - This question must be answered before love and its measure can be discussed.
Considering the question: "Why should I love God?" - the coldly reasoning person will answer: "Thinking about it, I actually find no reason why I should love God. Firstly, because I cannot love something invisible and, secondly, I do not owe any gratitude to the God Who created me, for He did not ask whether it suited me or not. He had only His pleasure of creating in mind and did not ask whether I, as the created being, would really be satisfied with My condition and the position He assigned to me among the other created beings, and whether I am feeling happy."
From these conclusions it would follow that there would be no obligation for man to love his Creator, even if He had placed him in the most fortunate circumstances, and much less so considering the hardships, suffering and misfortunes man has to struggle with from birth to death. Should men love God for that, and even "above everything"? That would be asking too much! There are people who would like to say to their Creator: "If you had not created me as a human being you might still claim my love, but in these sad living conditions it would require just too much simplicity to love Him Who in some respects placed me below the animal, yet gave me the ability to be really conscious of my state and to deplore it!"
Behold, My children, this is the not unjustified opinion of the rationalist whose world is the cold reality, that is, what he sees before him, can touch with his hands and perceive with his senses. With some, this way of thinking has always been the basis for their actions, ever since men came into existence. Today your learned materialists preach this without fear, and they find a large audience that fully agrees with their views and even applauds them.
If, in this sermon, I once more touch upon the commandment: "You shall love God above everything!", it is done to point out to the majority of people their wrong views about Me and the world, including the relevant false conclusions, -for the sake of those who are still susceptible to other things, except being admirers of transient matter, and feel that there is still something better and deeper moving in their heart inducing them towards spiritual life.
If I have given a commandment, there must be some reason why it should be observed or complied with. Thus, there must be a reason why I described this commandment as the noblest and greatest in My creation, and why it was instituted for the latter's continuation, consistency and perfection.
With every law it is easy enough to see why it was given in a particular form and whether its motive was love and whether it was given for the benefit of others or in the law-giver's own interests.
Now, if I as the Creator lay down love as the principle law for My created beings that are like Me, love for their Creator, it is obvious that the reason for this law must also be recognizable in My instructions and a person must understand that -whatever happens - love is at the root of everything.
What actually is "love"? We have to clarify also this concept to give us a better judgment concerning it.
Love is nothing else but a certain attachment to an animate or inanimate object. This attachment safeguards the preservation of this object to that degree to which it lays claim to our love. Among living beings love is an attachment or attraction to other beings with whom, due to their nature, there is emotional harmony. In the case of humans, the one who gives love also receives it in return. The loving person wants to remain with the loved one in a state of interchange with his thinking and feeling and, receiving love in return, as it were unite with that person to form a spiritual whole. Love which has no other goal than to see the loved one as happy as possible is also the quality that enables us to give the loved one everything, retaining nothing but the conviction of having made that person as happy as we can.
Only when a person has comprehended this love on the part of his God, Creator and Lord, can he easily understand the law of love demanding of him to love with all his heart and with the greatest possible intensity the God Who has given everything to make His created beings happy for all eternity.
But how does God prove this love which He has sacrificed for man to stimulate his human love into loving the Creator of the great universe above everything, above all that is of the world, the visible and invisible?
There are two ways that can prove and clearly demonstrate to a man the love of his Creator: First, the spiritual, invisible world within him and, second, the material, visible world around him. Both ways, although different in their expression, lead to the same goal, namely, to recognizing the Creator as the loving Lord and Father.
Let us now examine the first way.
In former times, when man's knowledge of nature was still more limited, scientists discovered many a starting point for the infinite, on a large scale as well as on a small scale. In those times it was the inner man with whom the enthusiastic lawgivers, like Moses, the Prophets and the seers, concerned themselves. They drew man's attention to his inner life and established as a law what men should actually do of their own accord.
In those times, this commandment of love for God was presented to men as a law, not as a commandment of love. That is why the Pharisee asked which was the greatest commandment, since he did not consider this one so important and may have believed he might receive an answer from Me referring to some civil law. For love, as I demanded it, was unknown to this Pharisee and to many other people in those times. Thus, notwithstanding these englightened times, to millions of the people living today love, which means something different from self-love, is an unknown thing.
In order to make this law of My great creation known and recognized, I Myself descended to your dark earth and demonstrated through word and deed what love for God and love for one's fellowman actually means. Thus I turned man away from his materialistic tendency and raised him to a spiritual being with its roots, its feet, on earth in the material, but lifting its head, or the spiritual flower, into regions that have no connection with matter.
Just as I explained the love of God to My contemporaries, I showed them through numerous parables, words and deeds what the love of one's neighbour is and how it must be understood and practised. I showed them how the second commandment of love for one's neighbour can only be fulfilled if first the love of God has been fully conceived in its spiritual meaning and how, vice versa, the love of God can only be genuine and pure if it is expressed as brotherly love for one's fellowmen and all the surrounding world.
The second way to prove God's love through nature, recognizing in it His voice on every step, was reserved for later centuries, although already at the time of My life on earth, and earlier still, the priesthood was more familiar with the secrets of nature than many people are even today. This voice, through which I wanted to give men countless proofs of My all-embracing love, remained unnoticed for a long time. Even now only few hear this voice in their explorations. Unfortunately, most of those who rake about in the field of natural science know only matter and the laws imposed upon it by Me, instead of hearing the soft call of love breathing to them from every atom, since a breath of love from My divine Self is latent in every atom, awaiting its further development in accordance with the laws of love.
It was the telescope which opened up the vast expanses above for you who are living today; and it was the microscope which revealed to you the wonders of the minutest things. With the help of both instruments you may be able to guess, but not comprehend, infinity and the Infinite Himself.
Both sciences - astronomy and natural science - have been given to man to dampen his pride, to eliminate his self-conceit and still raise him high above all spaces as a spirit, since they enabled the finite to guess and conceive the infinite.
Both sciences are meant to lead to the love of God, the love of God to human dignity and human dignity to the love of one's neighbour, which again leads back to Him Who has arranged everything in such a way that every spark of love can complete its circuit by returning to Me as God from Whom it has originated.
Thus the love of God is to form spontaneously in the hearts of men and express itself in the love of one's neighbour which -based on the former - speeds up the circuit, and in this way both laws, out of which everything has originated and to which everything seeks to return, prove to be truly the supreme and sole laws. Consequently, they are the noblest laws since they are based on love, on the inclination of like toward like and, therefore, can only give harmony, that is, peace, bliss and delight.
Even if man in the course of his life has to put up with many a struggle and bitter suffering, the spiritually inclined person does not regard this as the result of material or social circumstances, but sees in it an education for a higher life. The temptations of the material world must first be overcome before it is possible to comprehend the spiritual world in all its significance. Thus for him, the son of a God, struggles and suffering are only a spur to progress, not a cause for disappointment; thus he feels sublime in the struggles with a material world and, as a spiritual child of an eternally loving Father, strong enough to conquer them, for the corroboration of which I, as Jesus, have given you a splendid example.
In this state of awareness man understands why he should love God above all, that is, far above every other love; why he should regard the love of God as the highest and comply with its demands. He also understands why he should love his neighbour who, too, is a spiritual being, gone forth from the hand of God like himself, which means, he should respect him just as he himself, as the image of God, wishes to be regarded and respected.
Thus you shall love Me as God and prove this love on your neighbour so that you may be true descendants of Him Who has breathed His wonders into all things. Then you will realize that a world can only exist if its basic nature is love, if love is its impulse for existence and perfection.
It is this which My two commandments preach to you, what they are telling you in a thousand ways from the cradle to the grave and what they will be reiterating far beyond this life -that without love there cannot be a Father nor can there be children. Amen.