A Pharisee asks: “’Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … [a]nd a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” Mt 22:36-40 (ESV). I’ve been called pharisaic before (haven’t most Catholics?) but I’d never been called a Gnostic before. Gnosticism makes knowledge important, and because Jesus says that it’s love that matters, we’ve got to choose between ignorant Christianity or Gnosticism, right?


We are to love God and our neighbor. Those are the central commandments, the summation of the law, but they’re not commandments like “take exit 22 and turn south”; they have to be unpacked. How do we love God, and how do we love others? We love God by keeping his commandments (Jn 14:15); how, then, shall we love Him if we do not know what those commandments are? We love others by not only the corporal works of mercy (Mt 25:31 et seq.) but by bringing them to Christ (compare Jn 14:6 with Mt 28:19-20). “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations”—disciples of what? Of anything? Of course not! Disciples of Jesus! And you don’t make someone a disciple of Jesus by cobbling together a new gospel that they’ll like better and making them a disciple of that. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”—because baptism is ordinarily necessary for salvation. “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”—a charge that obliges the Church to teach what Christ taught and urge obedience to it.

The great commandments are not warrants to be ignorant.