The First Reading is from the Book of Exodus. This passage illustrates that there is an integral connection between love of God and love of neighbor. It especially underlines the call of the men in Israel to care for three groups of vulnerable people: women, orphans, and aliens. The words “I will kill you with the sword” are not to be taken literally. Rather, they are intended to convey how abominable it is in God’s eyes to fail to care for the most vulnerable in their midst. Therefore, "Neighbor" is anyone with whom we come in contact. "Love" in this usage is meant to include all the components of that word: Respect, Helpfulness, Forgiveness, etc. Finally, Love of God and love of neighbor, especially the needy, are intimately connected.
The Second Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians. In this passage, we hear how the Thessalonians responded to Paul's teachings earlier and now this small Christian community becomes a wonderful example in loving God and neighbor, a model for all believers in Macedonia and Achaia. He also reminds them that as Christians, they should be eagerly looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ, who will put an end to evil and injustice and lead us into an everlasting Kingdom of joy and fulfillment.
The Gospel Reading is from Matthew. Having failed to trap Jesus on the question of paying taxes, the Pharisees try it again. This time they have a scholar of the law tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus answers by summarizing all of the commandments into two, “Love of God and love of neighbor.” "The whole law and the prophet's [teachings] depend on these two commandments." Jesus and the Pharisees do not dispute the importance of the law. The Pharisees, who tend to be legalistic, underscore compliance to the law. In contrast, Jesus places emphasis on love. Therefore, love for God and Neighbor Cannot Be Separated. “How can you say you love God whom you do not see when you do not love your neighbor whom you can see” (1Jn 4:20).