Matthew 22:35-46: The Greatest Commandment and the Two Natures of Christ
In today’s Gospel reading, we hear of a lawyer testing our Lord to see if He would contradict or add to the law of Moses. He asks what is the greatest commandment. We are blessed to hear how all of the commandments are really summed up into two commandments, to love God and to love our neighbor, and that even these two are really combined into one commandment because one cannot truly be done without the other. We are reminded of our Lord asking Peter if he loved Him, and then asking him to feed His sheep, and of the inspection at our Lord’s second coming where He will either commend or condemn us for seeing Him hungry and feeding him or not in the people we encounter.
The very man that came originally to catch our Lord in blasphemy was so amazed at the Wisdom of God that he responded to Jesus with a clear understanding of the importance of loving God and neighbor more than fulfilling the burnt offerings and sacrifices required by the Law, because these practices could easily be done out of obligation and not out of Love. In the parallel account in Mark, Jesus tells the man that he is not far from the Kingdom of God, showing that although he did not perfectly understand who Christ was, he was beginning to open himself up to accepting our Lord in the flesh.
Our Lord was very patient in revealing His Divinity because He knew that it would be very difficult to accept it if He appeared to be setting Himself up in some form of opposition to God the Father. He allowed the crowds to think less of Him and to continue speaking of God as being One, although in reality God is really three, because in a few very important ways, God is One. He is one in essence, and more importantly He is One in opposition to thinking there are really other gods in the idols created by men and the demons.
He then led them to further understanding of His Divinity by asking what they thought of Christ; who’s son is He? They reveal their misunderstanding of the prophecy by saying that He is merely the son of David. He shows them how it is said that David calls the Christ Lord, although He is also his son. He is showing how both are realities, He is the son of David, but is also Lord, being of the same essence of God the Father and therefore equal in honor to Him. The Church’s teaching of the two natures of Christ are clearly shown in this prophecy and in our Lord’s use of this prophecy in His teaching.
After our Lord clearly explained how the Law taught the Divinity of Christ, all understood and could no longer use blasphemy against Him until He was arrested and condemned. At that point they were coming up with false charges to put Him to death because He brought Light to their darkness.
Sadly, there are many good-hearted Jehovah’s witnesses that have been so far removed from the Church that they have gone back to the understanding that Christ is merely the son of David and not Lord in the sense of being of one essence and equal in honor with God the Father. There are great dangers in reading the Holy Scriptures with an independent attitude and not with the guidance of the Church’s interpretation. God knew there would be this possibility and has allowed it to show us the harm of developing an independent spirit and not having the virtue of obedience to His bride and protector of the Faith, His Church.
May we humble ourselves and beg God to show us through the Holy Saints how to understand His Holy Word that gives us Life. Amen.