One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus replied, "The first is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he.'
And 'to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
The two love commandments
Question: We require, first of all, to be informed as to whether the commandments of God have a certain order or sequence, so that one comes first, another, second, and so on?…
Answer: The Lord himself has established order in his commandments by designating the commandment of the love of God as the first and greatest commandment, and, as second in order and like to the first, but more as a fulfilment of it and as dependent upon it, the love of neighbour…
Question: Speak to us first, therefore, of the love of God; for we have heard that we must love Him, but we would learn how this may be rightly accomplished.
Answer: The love of God is not something that is taught, for we do not learn from another to rejoice in the light or to desire life, nor has anyone taught us to love our parents or nurses. In the same way and even to a far greater degree is it true that instruction in divine law is not from without, but, simultaneously with the formation of the creature—man, I mean— a kind of rational force was implanted in us like a seed, which, by an inherent tendency, impels us toward love. This germ is then received into account in the school of God's commandments, where it is wont to be carefully cultivated and skilfully nurtured and thus, by the grace of God, brought to its full perfection. Wherefore, I approve your zeal as essential for reaching the goal…
Now, it is necessary to know that, although this is only one virtue, yet, by its efficacy, it comprises and fulfils every commandment. “If anyone love me,” says the Lord, “he will keep my commandments” (Jn 14,23). And again: “On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets” (Mt 22,40).