The Greatest Commandments

Today, in the Gospel of Mark, we read that the scribes asked Jesus which was the first, or most important, of the commandments. To this, Christ responded: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Love of God and love of our neighbors aren’t simply abstract thoughts or feelings. In order to truly love, we must show that love with our actions. That means that we put Christ first all day, every day. We wake up with a prayer on our lips. We ask God for His help when we need it, but we never forget to whisper prayers of joy, of thanks, or of happiness throughout the day as well. 

And part of showing our love for God is loving those we share the world with. We love our neighbor as we want to be loved. Our neighbors don’t just include the people we like. Our neighbors include every person we encounter. They’re the slow cashier at the grocery store. They’re the grumpy coworker in the next cubicle. They’re the irritable person down the street. 

God didn’t instruct us to be kind and love only our friends. That’s easy! He wants us to be kind to everyone. And when we do, we have the beautiful opportunity to change hearts and minds, to inspire, or to help someone feel important. Too often, people express their sadness or loneliness through negative actions. They’re grumpy or irritable because of something inside that really bothers them or because of the way they’ve been treated by others. It can be very difficult for them to break this cycle when people react to their negativity with negativity.

Sometimes, in order to make a change, people need just one person to treat them with kindness.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch taught Scout an important lesson when he said that we never really understand someone until we “climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Isn’t climbing into someone’s skin—seeing something from his point of view—putting love into action?

When we do this, we show people that they matter. 

As we approach the holidays and Advent, let us remember these two commandments, and let us reflect on the importance of loving others and treating them well. 

We all matter to God. We are all loved by God. And He calls us to help shine His love to others. 

So how will you put love into action today and every day?

Contact the author

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.

Feature Image Credit: Victor Rocha,