The Great Commandment: Week 3 | Day 2

Are you familiar with Jesus’ teaching of the “great commandment”: to love God “with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself”? Br. Jonathan Maury hears in these familiar words not an imperative, but an invitation; not something we need to achieve, but something we are called to receive.

Question: How have you experienced God’s love? How does that experience inform how you love others?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Well of Life

Transcript: Shortly after I left college, I returned to my home parish and was invited almost immediately to become a catechist.  Now a catechist is one who teaches, baptizes, and nurtures new Christians, at least preparing them for holy baptism, but also nurturing in the faith as a follow-up.

The first rite in the catechumenate, this ancient process for preparation for Baptism, involves the admitting of the catechumen.  And it begins with a simple question, “What do you seek?”  The response is “Life in Christ.”  And to underscore what this life in Christ is about, it is immediately followed by the great commandment, what we know as the summary of the law in the version that comes from Chapter 12 of Mark’s gospel.  Jesus says, “Hear oh Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength.”  Jesus immediately adds a second commandment, which is like the first, and this one from the Book of Leviticus.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Now I think we’re often faced perhaps with the sense that this great commandment is an imperative, you know, “You shall.  You shall.  You must, by pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, working, achieve this way of being, and if you don’t, you’ve failed somehow to be a recipient of God’s grace and love.”  But I think this is contrary completely to what Jesus was saying.  Jesus was speaking of a loving response of God saying to us, “This is my purpose for you.  This is my loving intention for you that you may come to love in a mutual relationship me in my fullness.  Come to know how you are loved by me and thereby be able to love others.”  There is that loving of others that is the teaching, baptizing, and nurturing that we speak about in this mark of love.

So we don’t have an imperative anymore, we have instead an invitation to mutual relationship, to fullness of life, to being taught ourselves by God, and being able to impart the good news of that love of out to us for others that they be nurtured and taught themselves.

How have you experienced God’s love, and how does that experience inform how you love others?

– Br. Jonathan Maury

Question: How have you experienced God’s love?  How does that experience inform how you love others?

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
This activity invites you to explore the Baptismal Covenant in prayer and reflection during your day and throughout the week. Each morning, write a short prayer based on that day’s question from the Baptismal Covenant. Each evening, reflect on how you are living into this aspect of your faith.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity


  1. Rhode on April 9, 2019 at 10:17

    I first experienced God in the singing of hymns when I was very young. The words of love combined with the simple harmonies – hands lifted in praise…faith and adoration In faces. I sang the words of God’s love and I wanted it. As I grew older those words took root in my heart. I felt His presence everywhere, in everything. Then, life in the 60s exploded my mind through experience, cynicism, chaos and regrets. The thing that kept me sane was a simple faith that somehow God still cared. After more years of poor choices, distracted by work and heartaches, I lost my faith. At the end of my forties successful and sad, I heard God’s voice through a parable I knew forwards and backwards. Yet, that day, I heard it differently … I was the prodigal daughter. I sensed God running down the road to love me back into the arms of Him who had never stopped looking for my return. Praise God! Now, in my 60s, within a renewed and deeper committment to Jesus, my family, friends and community I am a grateful witness to God’s priceless and present mercy. In all things, as Betsy and other sages so aptly put, ‘God is the source of our being’, and His kingdom glorified in our love for Him first and for ourselves and everyone else – in celebration and acknowledgement of the greatest of loves.

  2. Annmarie Bartoli Trejo on April 8, 2019 at 16:53

    There was a time in my life I felt all alone and not loved by anyone. Those days were very dark for me and I am ashamed to admit that I thought of ending my life. But God sent something for me to see one bright afternoon in the sky. I felt very humbled and I felt the caring and love deep in my heart. Even now when I think of that day it brings tears of happiness to my eyes. I have since recieved other messages from God, and the word he sent is hope. Hope for all of us, hope for the future and there can never be darkness if there is hope.

  3. Pam on March 18, 2017 at 10:28

    It took many years and an emotional crisis for me to know God’s love, and it came in a moment, a word of knowledge that said, “Beloved.” Without working at it or trying, that experience automatically generated in me a desire to pass that love on to others. It was not a thought-out or planned decision; that’s just the effect it had on me. And because of the suffering I went through, I discovered that I am easily able to be compassionate and merciful to others. I am no longer the judgmental and rule-bound person I used to be.

  4. Michael Foley on March 15, 2017 at 16:05

    I find God’s love in the acceptance and forgiveness that turns my inadequacy into a celebration that I bear God’s image. With this gift I can see the image of God in others. Relationships are where God’s love resides: with our spouses, friends, and enemies.

  5. Stan on March 13, 2017 at 22:26

    Above all, I find God’s love by looking into the eyes of my wife. She is the Godliest person I know, and her love is abundant. Not just to me, but all and everyone. And she’s inspiring, because she’s not just a “church lady”. She’s a bonifide cool person, too. And her influence on me has made me a better man. Through her, I have become much more patient, understanding, and … yes … loving.

    Listen to “A Lovely Place To Be”, by Patrick O’Hearn. Just close your eyes and listen fully, with your heart and soul. Here, you will find the love of God.

    • Bryan Cook on March 14, 2017 at 10:35

      yes Stan, I listened and felt the waves washing over me, cleansing my body and my soul……..such peacefulness,,,,,

  6. Lisa on March 13, 2017 at 21:58

    I have a dear friend with whom I do not always agree. Our love for each other and appreciation of each other as beloved children of God allows us to express our disagreement without hurting each other’s feelings. These discussions provide tools for being calm and respectful in disagreements with others.

  7. Kristi on March 13, 2017 at 20:32

    The Love that I feel from the Lord should ultimately dictate my actions towards others and help me behave with love as my intention. I can feel the love at Times but I seem to lose it when I encounter difficulty with individuals or outside circumstances. How do you maintain that loving spirit in all situations and always reflect gods love to others? We are human and I know I struggle with keeping a loving spirit at all times!

  8. Nancy A Best on March 13, 2017 at 19:33

    From my earliest days, I have always known Baptism as a Christening. There was no doubt that we were accepting Christ and scripture as our beginning in Christ’s love. Each infant was handed to Christ and his love. Those that became God Parents took their vows as sacred. We were to always acknowledge his love through our actions and respect his love. As a child, we knew our responsibility was to live a Christian life, honor the commandments, and do our best to act with caring for others. Our ‘Christening’ was special and carried these and many more responsibilities. To Love one another also carried many challenges. The scripture tells us that we must Love one another, and if there is an issue we must take that issue to that person in love. Our loving God and his son is our first critical commandment It is not an easy task at times while we learn throughout life that this is always critical. Christ first loved us that we should carry his life and love with us at all times. What greater lesson can we learn than to honor God, his father, and love God’s son. We carry this through our Christening and the spirituality of our Baptism. What greater gift can we or shall we perceive and accept?

  9. Margaret Dungan on March 13, 2017 at 15:59

    Since I was a child (I am now 82) I have known and felt God’s love for me but mostly through family and others. It truly made me a follower of “The Way” even as I was aware of my many failings en route. I also began to explore
    new ways of seeing and expressing this faith. How ever it was only through my personal failure and owning it as my own failure and not that of others that I truly discovered God’s love for me that had still sustained me even as I was failing him. This realization made it clear to me that this was the love that I in turn must extend to others. This was the lesson I needed learn and put into practice with God’s help. I know that I still have much to learn and the clock is ticking!


  10. Stan Lewis on March 13, 2017 at 13:36

    I have experienced God’s Love in many ways. One that immediately comes to mind is the grace given to me from other people: the second, third, and fourth–sometimes fifth and sixth chances to do better–be better. I have been forgiven countless times and would not be in the position I am to help others–to show grace to others–were it not for God’s love and grace for me working through other people. .

  11. Karen Pidcock on March 13, 2017 at 12:43

    I have been embraced by Sacred Presence my life long: being included in Christ’s Body through baptism as an infant, brought to worship by my mother where I discovered Anglo-Catholic Sisters of the Holy Nativity, who cared for me & showed me a church where I belonged & have been nurtured all my life. Now, there’s little nurturance in the local community of fath, but I certainly know God’s love in the many caring human beings of my life…in my dear pup, Poco, in whose eyes I see his soul in God…in the farflung acts of mercy, justice & peace-making, in the gift of life itself & its journey … touched by grace to learn the art of forgiving, forbearing, enjoying then letting go of relationships given/taken, of becoming more gentle & accepting of both others & myself.

  12. Cherie on March 13, 2017 at 12:43

    God has loved me unconditionally, God has been ridiculously abundant to me with Her presence and blessings, especially in the midst of trying times. It is my joy to share that with others, and I pledge to be more conscious about it in the future.

  13. Karen on March 13, 2017 at 12:19

    God has shown His love for me in little ways like a person smiling at me, and in big ways like when I experience a loved one’s death. Each of these ways tells me I am loved enough so I can share that love with others. That is what I try to do each day.

  14. Bryan Cook on March 13, 2017 at 11:21

    I was guilty of over-intellectualising my life and my response to every thing. It was a way of subliming my own feelings so that I could be numb enough to face my world. As a manager of energy science I had to see the bigger picture, but rarely was God in the equation. Nowadays, I have come to realise that I was not being receptive; I had to release my feelings, know myself better, before I could truly communicate with others from my heart and soul. There is an apex where science, philosophy and art converge to explore deeper the gifts of His creation. Religions have attacked people and movements for being at this apex and threatening thier belief systems and worldly power. I will continue to try to keep myself at this apex in my own small ways with an open heart and mind and faith in God, ever mindful that my pride could destroy this balance.

  15. Cliff on March 13, 2017 at 09:56

    I try each day to realize that I am sharing in God’s love. God makes this apparent by the song of a bird in spring, the smell of rain in the air, the beauty of trees as they burst into blossom and the unfolding beauty of his creation surrounding us in the stars and sky. I also see this in those I meet whether at home or in prisons or in the care found in hospitals and doctors’ offices. It is there and just needs to be realized.

  16. Verlinda on March 13, 2017 at 09:55

    My experience of God’s love comes from the people who loved me best: my family and closest friends. They were and are unfailingly accepting of me, in spite of (because of?) my flaws, they offer me grace and a refuge in stormy times, and they are there to celebrate with me in the joys of life. They are God-with-me.

  17. Elaine Culver on March 13, 2017 at 09:53

    Today I ask to stay off the defensive. If a request or comment sounds as if someone is trying to impinge on my turf, help me to take a deep breath, remind myself that this may not be the case, and respond with calmness and kindness.

    • Rev. Will Watson on March 13, 2017 at 14:13

      This is beautifully said, and so needed into today’s online AND offline climate.

  18. Rhode on March 13, 2017 at 09:41

    through my teens and twenties, i attributed anything good that happened to me to god watching over me because my parents said so. through years of kicking against it i finally accepted that this lifeline was trying to connect me to a deeper understanding of gods love ….revealed in his everyday commitment and responsibility to hold me close.
    when i accepted to try it his way i realized my earthly relationships were half hearted, if that. i asked god to help me be committed more responsible as he showed me that is what true love does…it holds on, works to make a way, sacrifices, finds and fixes what is broken, is responsible to stay and clean up and never ever gives up. Just as he will never leave us nor forsake us.

  19. Linda on March 13, 2017 at 09:35

    Experiencing God’s love is ongoing. It might be in a simple thing that happens while at the store, being outside and the beauty of his creation, seeing how I or someone in my family was kept from danger or illness. It is not one simple thing but everyday. I can’t imagine not having him in my life. Thru his love it helps me to always stop and remember how he would have handled a situation. Love always wins and I try to remember that in all the turmoil in the world today.

  20. Roderic Brawn on March 13, 2017 at 08:15

    In my daily life we struggle to love those people who would harm us. May we be guided by The Holy Spirit in the way we treat others. In this way we will demonstrate our Love of God and that we take on his values in our dealings with those around us.

  21. Ian on March 13, 2017 at 08:14

    You bring up a good point regarding the “guilt” many people face when not following these a commandment. It becomes a vicious cycle of appeasement. We all struggle with it. The thought that loving god comes first and that other commandments naturally follow is hard to grasp though. I believe a good starting point is to realize love begets love, where your first love is Jesus and God. How do I accomplish total love for them lord ? That in itself is hard without following further commandments. Thoughts on how to accomplish this?

    • Stan on March 13, 2017 at 22:11

      You must first learn to love yourself. If this is difficult, take some time alone, in the “wilderness” of your thoughts and feelings. Consider your needs and wishes. Find out the things that you, personally need, and consider your place in the universe. Concentrate on the God which you find within yourself, and you will find God’s love for you. This will help you to love yourself, as well as God. And the key to understanding others is to contemplate them, just as you contemplated yourself. Find God on each person, one at a time, and you can understand that person better, which allows your love to flow and flourish.

  22. Roderic Brawn on March 13, 2017 at 08:12

    May I be moved by the Holy Spirit to demonstrate that I love The Lord with all my powers and thoughts, and in so doing may I love my all my neighbors in a godly way.
    This is a my prayer.

  23. Kathy on March 13, 2017 at 06:13

    I’ve experienced God’s love through my children. I can better understand the immense love between parent and child. Therefore, it stands to reason that I should love others as my brother or sister. Their is discord in biological families as well but we must remember the bottom line is to love one another. So we must forgive, forget, and nurture friendship.

  24. David on March 13, 2017 at 04:08

    How do I love God ?

    • Rev. Will Watson on March 13, 2017 at 09:53

      My brother David, the blessing is knowing that God first loved us and sent his Son to die on our behalf, that we might receive his love through faith. Being forgiven and embraced by God (Jesus leading and serving your life), you know can love God, not routinely but out of a sense of gratitude and joy (for what he has done). We love God because his love is in us! And with his love, we love God by relating with him, sharing his compassion and lovingkindness with ourselves and others, and trusting in God’s grace to take one step at a time, one day at a time. David, you are FULLY loved, and his love enables you to fully love him and all people, because of the Jesus who lives within you! That is grace upon grace (John 1:16)!

      How do we know we are loving God, and that God is within us? “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12, NIV). It’s when we love one another, desiring others’ good above ourselves, that we participate in this glorious dance of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.

      I am nothing without God’s loving grace. But we are everything with it! David, receive God’s love by grace through faith, and love others by trusting in his Spirit to do just that…love! God’s blessings upon you and all who read this, including the great teachers and priests here at SSJE!

      Pastor Will Watson

    • Betsy Rose on March 13, 2017 at 11:17

      By being. Look outside and take joy in the seeing. Sit inside and take joy in the comfort of your body and space. Love is a force, a power that is in everything, animates everything surrounds and infuses us constantly. It is the life force; it exists everywhere. It is not just that warm fuzzy feeling portrayed by the rom-coms. It is the source of our being. So to love back, experience that and Be. Then your actions will reflect that Love within you and surrounding you, and you will mirror God’s face to the world.

      • Stan on March 13, 2017 at 22:29

        Beautifully stated, Betsy. Thank you for your passionate insight.

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