By  Lynn C Bauman from the Oriental Orthodox Order in the West. 

My instruction to you is this: You are to love God, your One Lord: first, with your heart, then with your soul, and finally with your mind. This is the prime and greatest commandment. But my second instruction, equally important, is this: You are to love your neighbor as your own Self. The entire Torah and all the teachings from the prophets are contained in these two instructions. 

—Matthew 22:36-40

In his early words of public ministry Yeshua spoke of this primal spiritual act: turning toward Transcendent-Immanence—the vertical axis within one’s being and reorienting there (Mark :15). Nothing else can proceed without this first personal spiritual decision to restore one’s soul to its own primary orientation—from the horizontal to the vertical. This is metanoia —the inner turning toward the soul-Source of wholeness and well-being. Spiritually, nothing else can happen without this. Once this change of orientation is made, then the base-line for all spiritual life thereafter is built on these simple and yet profound instructions. Yeshua’s wisdom and its praxis are grounded in three things: inner reorientation, falling in love with the Source, and extending that love out along the horizontal axis into all of human experience. 

This sign-of-the cross with its arms spread out in the four cardinal directions from the interior core of the heart is to become the skeletal structure of all spiritual reality. These instructions, however, are not simple—together they hold everything else. The first establishes a loving relationship that involves nothing less than one’s whole being. You can see that this is not a creedal statement about belief in God, but the establishment of a relationship with God in which one’s entire being and consciousness participates. We know this when we are in relationship with others around us, and the relationship is intimate. It does not touch just one aspect of our lives. It touches everything else too. Yeshua had come into relationship with his Source (the Abba) in just that way. It was deep, intimate, and affected everything else: his heart, his soul, and his mind—perhaps in that exact order. 

The second instruction extends in the horizontal world along each of the four cardinal directions touching both what is near and what is far, and treating it in a way that is unusual for humankind. Again, he is teaching an intimacy, a loving relationship and not just a theoretical concept or an abstract belief that other sentient beings exist and that we must treat them fairly. Yeshua’s instructions escape the literal application of religion law to involve each being in our line of sight in a loving relationship. In a world where we live socially proximate, this changes the way we react and relate to our fellow human beings and all other beings who share the planet and the cosmos with us. Yeshua is teaching and seeing from meta-cosmic perspective. 

Yeshua sees and knows that the “other” is also the larger “Self” of one’s being. Though born a blue collar, common, village laborer, he was metaphysically and spiritually sophisticated (and it is we who consider ourselves to be modern and sophisticated who are often spiritually and metaphysically impoverished and illiterate). We have been taught (that too coming from the wisdom of Yeshua) this means we are to treat others as we would treat ourselves: fairly, with kindness and with care. Yeshua brushes past even that line here, declaring that what we thought of as “other than myself” (different from me) is actually not only a part of me, but the definition of who I actually am. I am not fully myself until all other sentient selves are included in that Self—which I hold in a relationship of love. This is what makes Yeshua’s wisdom a radical Gospel. Notice the image, Yeshua breaks the glass on who my neighbor is!!! This is the baseline, and yet only the starting point. Everything else is eternal and infinite.



About Dr. Ernie Sherretta, D. Min.

Retired Director of Religious Education for the Catholic Church since 2014, granted a B.A. in Philosophy from St. Charles Seminary, an M.A. in Religious Studies from St. Charles Seminary, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Immaculata University, and a Doctor of Ministry from the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Spiritual Well-Being Counselor
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