Love the Lord your God... and your Neighbour - A Sermon for the Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost (October 29, 2023)
Sermon by the Ven. Cathy Laskey
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 34:1–12 | Psalm 90:1–6, 13–17 | 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8 | Matthew 22:34–46
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind...
You shall love your neighbour as yourself." Matthew 22: 37 & 39
The other day I was talking with my sister about the year she and her husband, dressed up as Star
Trek characters for a Halloween party. I can still see in my mind the picture of them all decked
out in their coloured uniforms, pointy ears and make-up while both doing the Vulcan Salute.
My brother-in-law is a Trekkie, period. His man cave/theatre room is full of figurines, ships,
phasers, tribbles, dvd’s as well as a life size cardboard cut-out of Captain Kirk. He constantly
watches episodes over and over and over again.
My sister and her husband looked like the real deal for that party. She had made a costume
before when they were dating. He had looked out the window one day and saw someone dressed
up in a Star Trek uniform and got all excited. As her love for him was beginning to take hold,
she saw her opportunity to impress this young man and said that she could make one with her
sewing machine. She did and as they say the rest is history.
I was quite surprised years later to see her all dressed up that Halloween because I did not know
that my sister had become a Trekkie too! She was now into it. How come? Because her
husband loved Star Trek and she loved him. She loved what he loved, even though it was never
her thing. But her husband loved Star Trek and she loved him and so she now loved Star Trek
Our Gospel reading from St. Matthew today talks about love. Loving God and God’s love. This
passage sets the tone for our entire life. A life where we make God our thing.
So far in the 22nd chapter we have heard about how the religious leaders have been questioning
Jesus to try to trap Him. I do invite us to take some time this week to read again the entire
chapter in one sitting. Today, we are now reading at the point where Jesus answers one final
question. Soon their hatred will lead them to drag Him to the cross.
The religious leaders, thinking they will be able to contradict Jesus no matter what He says ask:
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
Jesus answers, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law the
Jesus, the Son of God, is telling us how to live our life. This is the heart of the Law. Print this
out, put it on your fridge, frame it and put it on your wall, have it as a screen saver on your
phone, tablet, and computer. Begin each day by reflecting upon Jesus’ answer.
At the pastoral care workshop last week offered at Trinity Church, Hammond River, on The Art
of Visiting, the presenter, Rick Benson, encouraged those present to begin each day by taking a
moment to pause and give thanks. To name at least one thing at the beginning of the day that
one is grateful. Even when there seems to be nothing to be thankful for, remember that we do
have a Father in Heaven who sent His Son Jesus to love this world and to be our Saviour. God is
Over time, this pause and intentional focus at the beginning of each day will naturally create a
posture of gratitude within our hearts and how we live our lives. I would also think that
remembering and reflecting upon the commandment to love God with all our heart, soul and
mind, will go a long way in encouraging us to live a life of gratitude. Live a life of loving God.
This greatest commandment calls us to direct all our energies and all our love towards the
highest love. God. It sets the tone for what we do, what we say, how we use what we have, how
we respond to others, how we walk through each day.
I know that for me, this isn’t always the tone of my daily walk. I get distracted. I get focused on
other things. I sin. Here’s what happens.
[large paper heart with the word GOD in the centre placed on the floor] I know that Jesus has commanded
me to love God with my whole being. My love, my life is to be directed towards God.
[several smaller hearts] But, my heart, my love, that which I have been gifted with is often directed
elsewhere. Wealth, time, skills, energy, family. I’m really using these for my own benefit, not
out of love for God. [face them vertically so that they are not directed over the heart on the floor and drop them
one by one – they will miss the GOD heart]
Now watch what happens when our whole life is directed towards God, focused upon God. [after
picking up the smaller hearts, face them horizontally over the heart and drop them one by one and watch them land
on the GOD heart]
When our posture is intentionally directed first towards God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When
we intentionally take the time each day to discern God’s call on our lives each day. When we
have a heart of gratitude, a heart of love our whole being, our life is daily drawn towards God.
God must be the centre of our life. The focus of our life. The purpose for which we get up each
day and the reason for the life we live. Let us begin each day by reminding ourselves to love
God with all our heart, soul, mind before our feet touch the floor. Everything else in our life will
find the right position. Love God First.
St. Augustine is quoted as putting it this way. He said, “Love God – and do what you please. If
you love, what He wants will please you.”
This is the greatest and the first commandment, but did you notice that Jesus wasn’t asked by the
religious leaders for a second commandment. He voluntarily adds this in. Why did He offer this
Well, God loves everything and everyone that He has made. They wouldn’t exist unless He
loved them. Therefore, if we love Him with all our heart, soul and mind then we love what he
loves. We love Him, we love all that God loves.
[hold up the heart and turn over to show the word NEIGHBOUR]. As The Rev. Rob shared last week in
reference to the image on the coins, “[a]ll humans together bear the image of God.”
This is why the two commandments are intertwined. Jesus says all laws ‘hang on’ love for God
and Neighbour, meaning Law and the Prophets can be understood and lived only by one who
loves both God and others.
My sister loved Star Trek not because it was originally her thing. She loved it because the one
she loved, loved it.
We love our neighbour and everything that God has created, living as good stewards of this earth
our fragile home, within the great love we have first for Almighty God.
A fun fact to finish with. And no, I am not a Trekkie. Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) who came
up with the Vulcan salute shared that he based it on the Priestly Blessing performed by Jewish
Priests. When he was a child, his grandfather had taken him to an Orthodox synagogue where he
saw the blessing which one part meant ‘Almighty God’. Over time, this Vulcan salute has
become known as the universal sign for ‘Live long and prosper’.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 5, verse 33 includes the phrase as part of Moses’
admonitions to the Hebrew people prior to entering Canaan. “You must follow exactly the path
that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with
you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess.”
Christ came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. This is God’s desire and love for
Friends, let us live a life of gratitude each day loving the Lord our God with all our heart, and
with all our soul, and with all our mind ...and loving our neighbour as ourselves. Let us make
God our thing and love what God loves. Amen.
Rev. Rob serves as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Luke's Gondola Point, and as the School Chaplain at Rothesay Netherwood School