The question asked by the scribe in today’s gospel about the greatest commandment wasn’t an idle one. 2000 years ago the Jewish authorities had determined that there were no less than 613 distinct commandments in the Law. Too many people lived according to what was an observance of merely the letter of the law without regard for its spirit, and this despite the many warnings of the prophets who taught that the mere external practice of religion was always insufficient and certainly not pleasing to God. True worship of God must stem from the heart.
Our Lord’s answer to love God and our neighbour, not only indicated the greatest commandment, but also revealed the spirit and the purpose behind all the other commandments of the Law.
Today in the Church, whether for better or worse, we have got away from many of the smaller rules and regulations, which had their value at certain times and places. Today we enjoy a greater freedom because we know that the Holy Spirit is at work in what we do.
Nowadays we have to be more mature about our faith. And as mature people we all want to enjoy freedom and we don’t want to be restrained like children by the smaller rules and regulations. But our freedom will only be mature and responsible if we learn to live according to the great command to love God and our neighbour. And then, like the scribe in today’s gospel, we too will edge closer to the kingdom of God.