Weekly Sermon Illustration: The Law of Love
In our blog post every Monday we will select a reading from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday, and pair it with a Frederick Buechner reading on the same topic.
On February 1, 2015 we will celebrate the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. Here is this week's reading from the Gospel of Mark:
They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
The following is an excerpt from "Law of Love" found in Frederick Buechner's book "Beyond Words."
Jesus said that the one supreme law is that we are to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, and our neighbors as ourselves. "On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets" is the way he put it (Matthew 22:40), meaning that all lesser laws are to be judged on the basis of that supreme one. In any given situation, the lesser law is to be obeyed if it is consistent with the law of love and superseded if it isn't.
The law against working on the Sabbath is an example found in the Gospels. If it is a question of whether or not you should perform the work of healing people on the Sabbath, Jesus' answer is clear. Of course you should heal them is his answer. Obviously healing rather than preserving your own personal piety is what the law of love would have you do. Therefore you put the lesser law aside.