Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, to test Him: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40
Good morning Prayer Team!
In the Old Testament there are a total of 613 commandments. Ten of those Commandments are known as the Ten Commandments, which we have been discussing. There was an entire class of leadership in the Jewish temple—Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, etc.—who were in charge of making sure that people were following the commandments. Since NO ONE could remember 613 Commandments and many of us can’t remember the Ten Commandments, this led to opportunities for abuse by the temple elite, who would bind heavy burdens over people who were unable to live up to these 613 standards.
When Jesus came to live among us, He summarized the Commandments into TWO Great Commandments. In these two Commandments fell the Ten. The Commandment to love the Lord your God covers having no other gods before you, making graven images, taking the Lord’s name in vain and remembering the Sabbath to keep it holy. And the commandment to love our neighbor covers honoring our father and mother, not committing murder, stealing, adultery and bearing false witness, and not coveting.
And if you can’t remember even two commandments, all the commandments can be summed up in one word, which is LOVE. If you are demonstrating love at all times, then you are following the commandments. Love is an act that takes from you and puts onto someone else—it is filled with self-emptying, humility, and service. Love is patient and kind, as we read in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 13:1-8.
It did and does no good to memorize all the laws of the Bible and state them from memory if you don’t know the most basic of commandments, which is to love. And if you aren’t a master of scripture, that’s okay too. Just remember what it means to love and apply that to your life and you will be living a Christian life that pleases God. I remember when I was a young priest, that a Bishop of the church told me that the priesthood is about honoring God by loving people. In my moments of uncertainty of how to handle a situation, I use this barometer—does it show love for God? Does it show love for other people?
Lord, thank You for giving us an example of what it means to love. Thank You for sending Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to love us and to die for us. Help me always know what it means to love You and to love others and help me to bring love into the decisions I make today! Help me to honor You today. Hope me to love my neighbor in the same way that You have loved us. Amen.
Love God and love your neighbor today!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: This Day with God
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