Jesus, help me see the difference between fairy tales and faith. Amen!

"Teacher," Jesus was asked, "which commandment is the greatest?" He answered: "'Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.' The second-greatest is like it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.'"

In fairy tales, characters often have to be careful what they wish for. A mermaid wishes to have legs instead of a tail, but it turns out (in the original story) that it's painful for her to walk. A prince gets turned into a beast and has to become so kind that a girl can fall in love with him that way, if he wants to be changed back.

Those are just fairy tales, but this week's Gospel (Matthew 22:34-40) is a real story. People wish that Jesus would give them a simple answer for what they need to believe about God, and Jesus does -- but His simple sentences can be complicated to live out. Jesus' listeners may think they should have been careful what they wished for!

In fairy tales, characters ask for something to happen and it does. All they had to do was wish and wait. In real life, we all play a part in making things happen. You can't just wish for a change; you have to take action.

The Gospel story is a good example. People hear Jesus teaching about God and wish for easy answers -- something they can do that will mean they're good people who will go to heaven. They're probably asking which commandment is the greatest because they'll just follow that one and forget the rest.

Jesus' answers show that His words aren't a fairy tale. He says we have to love God with every ounce of energy we have: to think about God, keep God in our hearts and do our best to be genuinely good. Jesus also says part of that is treating other people well -- as well as we'd like them to treat us.

For fairy-tale characters, wishing always has a catch. With Jesus, you don't have to be careful what you wish for. He's not hiding anything. Jesus just wants everyone to pray and then take action!