Love the person, not the idea

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Love heart on vintage wood background texture SBI 301087686While it’s relatively unusual to read this particular Gospel as part of this particular liturgical week – given that All Saints which begins this evening usually bumps this reading – the words that Jesus says are very familiar. This is St. Mark’s account of Jesus giving the summary of the Law in response to a question from a scribe.

What Jesus says here by way of response isn’t unique. It is in keeping with other rabbinical tradition and that, in of itself, helps us Christians to remember that he was a Jewish person speaking to other Jews within a Jewish context. This lesson is less about something particularly Christian as it is about something that is shared by our common tradition.

Loving God is the greatest commandment – and loving our neighbor is like it. What I’m struck by is the word “love” as a verb here. It’s decidedly different that “fear” or “hold in awe” or “respect”. Love is, to my mind, something you do with another person, not with a thing or an idea. And that, in of itself, tells something about who God is, and what God is not.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Irving Stackpole says

    Thank you Bishop. My mother would always correct us s as children whenever we said, “I love chocolate!”, or “I love that song!” And the lesson stuck. My belief is that for us, love only exists in the domain of ethical action. What about pets, Father? I read Harrari’s Sapiens, and am challenged by his equivalencies among animals.

  2. Love God in spirit and in truth. Jesus is a person. The Father is the creator and the Holy Spirit? Can we say, “Holy Trinity”? I have no problem loving an abstraction.

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