By Danny Anderson
When I was in high school, my family built our house. I remember spending hour after hour, week after week, year after year, working on our home--framing walls, running wires, plumbing, building cabinets and desks, tiling bathrooms, painting, and so much more. By the end of it, our hard work paid off in the beauty of the design, the craftsmanship, and the integrity that it took to build.
In a house, there is one small part that is not visible in the finished product.
It’s a metal bracket called a joist hanger and it holds rafters and floor joists together with nails. Without these small brackets, scattered throughout the structure, the building could never stand. The effort and time put into making the beautiful kitchen, perfectly aligning the bathroom tile, and trimming with precision would be in vain. Nothing would matter. My family’s safety would be at risk if our house was built without these brackets.
This is why it is required by building code to use joist hangers for wood framed houses--so that nobody gets hurt.
As a Christian, God’s commandments ought to govern my actions and give me a structure by which to conduct my life. In keeping the commandments, my spiritual safety and the safety of others is guarded. Whenever I sin, I hurt myself and often hurt others in the process. This is how I know that the Lord’s commandments flow from a place of love rather than from a place of authority.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals the most important commandments to the Pharisees:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind … [and]… You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mt 22: 37,39).
He then explains:
“On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets,” (Mt 22: 40).
On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets. As I read these words from Jesus, I realize how simple the Christian life is. Now, simple cannot be confused with easy because my sin and the temptations I face make leading a life governed by these two commandments very difficult.
However, this simplicity that Jesus is revealing to me, reminds me that I need to simplify my life
to not overcomplicate anything and to just love God and love others. I need to trust that if I abide by this, all other virtues will flow forth in my life. And it’s important for me to remember that it will never work the other way around. Pursuing other things that I think are “good” won’t lead me to love God. Loving God, followed by loving my neighbor is the starting point.
I must begin here if I am to get anywhere else.
Without observing these two commandments--like the joist hangers--nothing else matters and everything will be bound to crumble. If I abide by these two commandments, I will be built up, my virtues will be strengthened, and my relationships with others will flourish. Jesus desires this for me. He desires that my life is built up with love for Him and others being the integral strength that holds everything together. He loves me so dearly and asks that a reciprocation of that love be my strength.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danny is a junior studying media production at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has a
passion for photography, studying the lives of the saints, and adventuring through the beautiful