At The Church of The Ascension in Rockville Centre we begin each Mass with the following words:
Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Whenever we gather for our most important act of worship we are reminded of what lies at the core of who we are as Christians and as children of God: we are to love God with our entire being, we are to recognize the love that God has for us, and we are to share that love with others. In theory it seems quite simple; in practice it can be quite difficult.
We live in a world that no longer has time for God. Our lives are fragmented: we run from activity to activity and place to place, constantly being bombarded by messages of hopelessness; constantly being told that we are not good enough. We proclaim the summary of the law each week because we believe that the world desperately needs to hear it; we believe that we need to hear it too.
After Jesus had risen from the dead, and before he ascended into heaven, he gave his disciples the great commission:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ -Matthew 28:16-20
We believe that the Great Commission and the Summary of the Law are the mission of our church today as much as they were to those eleven disciples with Jesus on the mountain. We are to make disciples; we are to bring individuals into the Christian family and we are to teach them the importance of loving God and loving their neighbor. And we are also to remember and proclaim, that this same Jesus that we worship and follow is still with us.