Commentary on the Lectionary: Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Commentary on the Lectionary: Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves
(November 1, 2009)

In this passage, a scribe asked Jesus which commandment is the first. Jesus said it was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and Jesus added, “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe agreed and said that to love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself “is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Jesus then said to the scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
I see loving God and loving one’s neighbor (a creation of God) as oneself are two sides of the same coin. Further, the second commandment that Jesus identified is a variation of the Golden Rule (see Matthew 7:12) which, I have argued, should apply to animals as well as humans.

Interestingly, Jesus noted that the scribe was not far from the kingdom of God. The scribe recognized that loving God and loving our neighbors were of primary importance, but the scribe evidently still believed that burnt offerings and sacrifices had value. However, such sacrifices involved killing God’s creatures, which would not be showing love toward his animal neighbors. Therefore, the scribe did not fully understand that the kingdom of God is a world without violence or victimization.

Go on to: Reflection on the Lectionary: Mark 12:38-44
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

Return to Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion