The Royal Commandment          

The most important of all of the commandments is this: You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with your entire mind, and with all of your strength.

Let the second commandment then be: love your neighbor as you love yourself.

This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater law, and there is no greater love manifest than the act of giving up one's life for a friend.

Whoever lives contrary to this commandment will be least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever abides by this law, teaching others the joy of obedience, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. I have told you all of these things that my joy might remain with you, and that your joy might be full.

You have heard it said, “It is only right to love your friends and hate your enemies.”

But I ask you to love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Show goodness to those who hate you. Pray for those who despise and mistreat you. Doing this, you will become the children of your Father in heaven; for he makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain to refresh the just and the unjust. If you love only those who love you in return, where is the reward? Even the corrupt live by these rules.

Instead, love one another as I have loved you. Doing this, everyone will realize that you are my disciples, because your lives are filled with acts of selfless love. Do not be deceived: if you say that you truly love me, your life will be lived according to my words and you will be honored by my Father and blessed with his presence.

If you hear my words and act accordingly, you will be loved by my Father and by me as well, and we will come and make our dwelling with you.

God loves you because you have believed in me, his son, and understood that I am come to you from him. Practice this awareness. Keep my words, and live in this love, even as I follow my Father's laws, and by doing so, abide continually in his love.

Once a man traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho . The route was dangerous and notoriously plagued by thieves. Such evil men attacked him, stripped him of his possessions and clothes, and left him half-dead. The first to find him was a temple priest journeying along the same route. Seeing the man lying there, he crossed over to the other side of the path, and hurried away.

Some time passed. A second man approached, one who prided himself in his religious observance. Seeing the wounded man, he hardened his heart. Gathering his coat about him, he made a wide detour to avoid the unpleasant scene.

Toward evening, a third man drew near, a poor Samaritan, outcast because of his race, and despised among society. He too, saw the injured man and immediately his heart was filled with compassion. Tearing his clothing into strips, he bandaged the man's wounds, dressing them as best as he could, using his own oil and wine. With care, he placed the man onto his mule, and went in search of an inn. There he made sure that all of the wounded man's needs would be met.

In the morning, before leaving, he paid the innkeeper in advance and said: “Attend to the injured man, and when I pass this way again, I will reimburse any added expense.”

Which of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?

Go then, and live your lives doing the same as the good man from Samaria .

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