In the Gospel according to Matthew, we can picture Jesus surrounded by Pharisees, who are hounding him, somewhat like aggressive reporters.
A clever lawyer tries to stump Jesus: Which is the great commandment in the law? A tricky question. Why? Because the law had 613 do’s and don’ts.
Jesus answers simply by reciting the daily Jewish prayer, the “Shema” (“Hear!”): You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Then Jesus startles his listeners by adding love of neighbor. We love God to the extent we love our fellow human beings.
Yes, we often forget: behind “appearances” people reflect the image of God. A disciple of Jesus sees the likeness of God in our fellow human beings, no matter how challenging that might be.
You may have seen the classic play or movie “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Ultimately, Joseph's faithfulness to God led to a life of great fruitfulness. Our life too should be immensely fruitful, because the Spirit of God lives within us. We are “temples of the living God,” writes Paul. Just as God dwelt in the Jerusalem temple, so now he dwells in us by his Spirit. The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I close with a paraphrase of one of my favorite quotes: