Part 2: The Proof of Prayer
The proof of prayer is real love of our neighbor.
If we approach the world from a science-first, materialistic perspective, we might view love as something like:
- A release of oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine, and endorphins
- A response to a mating instinct, perhaps driven by sexual attraction
- An offspring-protection instinct, extended beyond our progeny
You could take this line of thinking further, adding more knowledge to the bucket of "scientific love."
In Matthew's account of the Gospel, we hear the two greatest commandments according to Jesus:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...Love your neighbor as yourself.
In Greek, there are many words for love. Four of the most famous are agápe, éros, philia, and storge, which all have slightly different meanings. The greatest commandments aforementioned turn out to be rendered with agápe.
Is it a failure of English that we combine all of these "loves" into love? Or, perhaps, a recognition of something deeply shared in common?
Aside: it is interesting to compare the first commandment to The Shema, one of the most important prayers in Judaism. As Matthew was primarily written for a Jewish audience, this can be no accident.
The traditional Act of Contrition places love at its center:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.To be continued