The Essence of All Things

February 9, 2005

As a friend of mine spoke yesterday, I caught a train of thought and was whisked away. She mentioned the discussion Jesus had in the Gospel with a lawyer (yes, even the Messiah had to deal with them). The lawyer asked “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Without hesitation Christ answered 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 great and first commandment. And a second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:36-40)

It was that last statement that sounded the whistle to contemplation. Loving God and loving my neighbor are the essence of God’s Word. In my mind’s eye I could see the Scripture being distilled (which is to purify, refine or concentrate, to obtain the part that is essential and pure) to these two thoughts. As a fine perfume, the Holy Writ’s fragrant blossoms harvested and refined to essential oil then combined for a sweet savor, a scent beyond compare.

I thought about the meaning of the words essence and essential. They come from the Latin word ‘essentia’–to be. Essential is the fundamental nature of a thing which must be present for the thing to exist, to function.

And my heart cries out. That is why Jesus said “HEAR, O ISRAEL. The Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Jesus referencing Deuteronomy 4:5,6 in Mark 12:29, 30). This is it, guys, listen up. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. Pay attention. Nothing matters like this. If you never get anything else, get this.

The train of thought stops and lets me off at my destination. I look up. The station sign black and white before me reads: Essence. I know I’ve arrived. I know the essence of all things. Love God and love others, but love God most.

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