means above all the new commandment, the first
and the greatest of the commandments, and the
one that best identifies us as Christ’s disciples:
“This is my commandment, that you love one
another as I have loved you” (
15:12). Clearly,
whenever the New Testament authors want to
present the heart of the Christian moral message,
they present the essential requirement of love for
one’s neighbour: “The one who loves
his neigh-
has fulfilled the whole law… therefore love
of neighbour is the fulfilling of the law” (
13:8, 10). These are the words of Saint Paul,
for whom the commandment of love not only
sums up the law but constitutes its very heart
and purpose: “For the whole law is fulfilled
in one word, ‘you shall love your neighbour as
yourself ’” (
5:14). To his communities Paul
presents the Christian life as a journey of growth
in love: “May the Lord make you increase and
abound in love for one another and for all” (
1 Th
3:12). Saint James likewise exhorts Christians to
fulfil “the royal law according to the Scripture:
You shall love your neighbour as yourself ” (2:8),
in order not to fall short of any commandment.
162. On the other hand this process of re-
sponse and growth is always preceded by God’s
gift, since the Lord first says: “Baptize them in the
name…” (
28:19). The Father’s free gift which
makes us his sons and daughters, and the priority
of the gift of his grace (cf.
1 Cor
enable that constant sanctification which pleases
God and gives him glory. In this way, we allow
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