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The Great Commandment and the Great Commission

When a Jewish scholar (a Pharisee) asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment in the Law, he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). This commandment is often referred to as “the Great Commandment.” However, Jesus went on to say, “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (22:39).

In John 13:34-35, just before his passion and death on the Cross, Jesus elevated these to an even higher level by these words, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In John 17:22-23, he goes even further when he says, “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

After his Easter resurrection, Jesus gave his disciples (and you and I) these instructions, “Go into to all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This is often called “the Great Commission.”

I believe that what the Church needs, and what the world is waiting for, are Catholics who will show the world that they are Jesus’ disciples by taking these words seriously. The Great Commandment and the Great Commission may seem quite daunting to us, especially if we think this is something the Lord is calling us to respond to on our own strength as “lone ranger” Catholics. However, just imagine what God can do with a group of Catholics who will follow the Lord Jesus and risk laying down their lives for one another in healthy Christian relationships.

I encourage you all to seek other Catholics who share your faith and have some common interests. They may be fellow parishioners, coworkers, or neighbors. Begin meeting together regularly in your parish or in your home. You will indeed be surprised at what God will do through a small group of Catholics who love him and one another.

I firmly believe we need the Lord Jesus Christ, now more than ever, and we need to know how much our heavenly Father loves us. We need the power of the cross of Christ. We need the power of the Holy Spirit. And we need each other. We need Catholics standing shoulder-to-shoulder if we are to spread the Gospel to the whole world and reach other Catholics for Jesus Christ.

I believe Catholics standing together in Christ can change our families, our culture and the whole world. Do you believe this?

Reflection Questions

1. How do you feel you have responded to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission? What steps can you take to improve your response, especially together with other Catholics?

2. Do you believe that now, more than ever, Catholics need to become more involved in the life of the Church and the community? Why?

3. Do you believe that Catholics can grow in their faith and live out their Christian walk better with the support of other Catholics? Share some examples from your own life.

4. In what way do you feel called to get involved with a ministry in your parish and to participate in a group?

Adapted from an article by Maurice Blumberg and used with his permission.

Click here to read how the great commandment and the great commission are incorporated into our parish mission.