Gospel Reading: Mk 12:28-34
ONE of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well [Je sus] had answered [the Sadducees], asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?“ Jesus replied, “The first is this: `Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.“ The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, `He is One and there is no other than he.’ And `to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.“ And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.“ And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
No other commandment greater than these. In the Gospel, Jesus goes to the very essence of the ethical demands of God. There were some 613 commandments in the whole Old Testament, but Jesus points to the essentials: love of God “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength“ and love of neighbor as love of self. Jesus thus points out that our love of God must be total-nothing of ourselves must be subtracted from that love, and all our loves must be included in that love of God.
Second, Jesus points out the inseparability of love of God from love of neighbor. One who truly loves God must express one’s love for God in love of neighbor. In exercising this twofold love, we do all that the Lord asks of us, while if we observe the commandments but do not have this twofold love, we do not do God’s will.
Pray: “Lord, grant us your Spirit of love.“
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