“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Almost every Church controversy today can be boiled down to the above passage from the Gospel of Matthew. And you can tell which side of the aisle you fall by which commandment you seek to emphasize.
- The Liturgy – Giving glory to God (a reverent liturgy) or to “celebrate as a community”
- Communion to Pro-Abort Public figures – Denying Communion preserves the teachings of God concerning scandal vs. not denying keeps the sinner “close” to the Church so they may see the error of their ways and change
- Ministry to the Divorced and Re-married – Upholding Jesus’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage vs. being pastorally sensitive to the situation that baptized Catholics (who are probably not validly married anyway) are in with a person which is not their spouse.
- Reacting to Gay “marriage” – Respecting marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman vs. respecting the dignity of persons conflicted with their sexual orientations.
- Supporting Pro-abort social justice organizations – Respecting the teaching of the church concerning human life vs. tolerating evil that good might come.
The list could go on and on. And while we all know (or should know) that there is no real contradiction or separation between the two Commandments, the Church finds itself in a polarized position of two camps which seek to emphasize one Commandment over the other. This is happening right before our eyes as the battle is playing out from lay person all the way up to Cardinal, and if we are honest, between Popes (at least to a certain extent).
The Church has become part of the whole political war playing out in the secular world. And it’s very sad indeed.
For those who hold the Faith, we are dying by emphasis, by degree not by kind. But a death is a real death because perception becomes reality.
What is the solution to this? Well, quite simply, Catholics should follow what the Scripture says. It says that FIRST we honour God, and then we honour our fellow human being. Secondly, the second commandment is not equal to the first; it is NOT the “greatest” (the First is – as Jesus says) but is “like” the first Commandment. The second Commandment completes the first. Without the second, the Gospel falls. But without an acknowledgement of the first as the greatest and primary commandment, the Gospel is upended and reversed. So, in other words, if we Catholics are going to get this straight, and that includes our teachers in the Faith, we need to fully grasp the order and balance to both.
So far, it’s not been very successful.
We do not serve man by hiding God’s hard truth. It would be a smooth lie to believe that one can be “pastoral” i.e. serving man while de-emphasizing the Commandments that God has given us for our benefit and for our salvation.
Every question which comes up has a right answer. We know what the right answer is because it’s the one that has the correct order and most balance to it. Catholicism is, by its nature, always in balance and in perfect symmetry.
In the case of distributing Communion to pro-abort politicians, how, precisely, is the First Commandment upheld? And, how is man served in the second commandment when the first is so disregarded? How, precisely, is being pastoral by denying the majesty owing to God like the first commandment?
What is pawned off in all these cases as an emphasis on the Second Commandment is a scam and a lie, and what it really boils down to is refusing to truly serve man and the Second Commandment for fear of the consequences that the First Commandment brings.