This is the first and great commandment: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like unto it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Any Episcopalian who attends a Rite 1 service, or who remembers the old 1928 Prayer Book, has heard this section of today’s Gospel over and over. It’s in the liturgy right before the Lord have mercy, because that’s how we are supposed to react when we hear it: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner; I can’t possibly do what you just told me to!” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. There’s no “sometimes” in there. No “on a good day.” No "two out of three." Love with all you’ve got, all you are, all the time. That is the vision.
It sounds wonderful, but has anybody other than Jesus ever done it? Does any of us love God authentically, with every fiber of our being, every minute of every day, bringing all our intellect and all our heart into that love? Does any of us meet the needs of our neighbor, every time, with every bit as much pleasure and foresight and care and thoroughness as we meet our own needs? Any of us? Ever? If you say yes, I won’t believe you.
It’s a standard nobody but Jesus has ever met, but that’s the whole point. He meets it, he lives the vision perfectly, and then we are (choose your metaphor:) grafted, or adopted, or included, or immersed into him. That’s Christianity in a nutshell: his obedience, his perfection, stands in for our unreliability and just plain averageness. ....