“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ’Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’” He (Jesus) said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” (Mt 22: 36-40)
Christ is not “tolerant” with every single question posed to Him by His opponents. Sometimes He replies with a rebuke (Mt 22:29), and sometimes He refuses to reply at all (e.g., Lk 20:3-8).
But in this case, even though the Pharisees are insincere seekers, Jesus replies. Because the question in and of itself is an important one, and the reply is central for those sincerely seeking to do God’s will: Most importantly, He says, we are commanded to 1. love God; 2. love ourselves; and 3. love our neighbour. The rest of God’s law is ancillary to these three “loves.”
When I take a bit of time today for self-examination, reviewing my actions, words, and thoughts, let me begin by asking myself the right questions, the central questions. These concern my love of God, of myself, and of my neighbour. Any other issues, the Lord reminds me, “hang” on these three.