In Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 22) Jesus is asked a question from a lawyer, “which commandment is the greatest?” Jesus answered with the familiar words, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” That was an answer that was acceptable to the lawyer and was commonly agreed upon at the time. And Jesus added a second part, that would have also been commonly accepted, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Then Jesus says, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The phrase, “the law and the prophets,” is short hand for the Hebrew Bible, what we often call the Old Testament. In other words, everything that is held dear, everything we believe to be true can be summed up in the divine commandment to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Perhaps this is the scripture we should have had in mind when we voted to sign the Charter for Compassion. For we all know that Jesus defines neighbour as anyone in need. I don’t for a moment think that God would command such extraordinary love if God didn’t think that we were capable of such love. Examples of this kind of love are all around and so evident in this community of St. Paul’s Church.
If I started list the people and the ways in which these commandments are fulfilled here, people would just shrug it off and say, that was nothing, that’s just what we do. Well, it is not nothing, you are fulfilling the commandments of God when you choose love, compassion and being there for one another.
I am proud of you and happy to be a part of this parish. Last Saturday when I opened my emails and saw a message from the Rev’d Cathy Lee Cunningham, I knew right away that because of the driving conditions she was not going it to be with us. I knew she’d made the right decision but I have to admit that my first reaction was entirely selfish, as I knew that I had missed a chance to show you off. I love to have people come and visit this parish because I know that they will see in you the desire to love God and neighbour.