One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and 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.”
Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The other day I saw a TV commercial that woke me up—not my usual reaction to commercials! It shows a crowded high school corridor, walls lined with lockers, students busy putting in and taking out coats and books. Suddenly a tall male student deliberately shoves a smaller, minority student knocking the books out of his hands. When the second student tries to pick up his books, the bully kicks them across the corridor, gives an ugly laugh, and walks away. Most of the other students look away and get very busy, but one of them, a husky young man in a football jersey, bends over and helps pick up the books, smiling warmly at the victim, but staring icily at the bully, who beats a hasty retreat. As the scene fades, a single word remains on the screen in large letters: CHARACTER. End of commercial.
It might also have ended with Jesus looking at the football player and saying what he said to the scribe in today’s gospel passage: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God!” That young man’s “character” enabled him to act lovingly toward a badly treated neighbor. Ignatius Loyola had this guy in mind when he wrote that “love is shown more in deeds than in words.” The scribe spoke clearly and well to Jesus about love; this young man acts out the love he understands as key to life (even though he might never put it that way himself). Kudos to whoever paid for this commercial: it speaks to our world as Jesus might today. We know love when we see it, by whatever name we may give it.
Ask yourself how you act out love in everyday ways, making our world a better place….
—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J., Vice-President for Mission & Ministry, Loyola University Medical Cente
Suscipe of St. Ignatius Loyola (paraphrase)
Accept, O Lord, and treat as your own my liberty, my understanding, my memory—all of my decisions and my freedom to choose. Keep giving me your holy love, Hold on my your life-giving gaze, And I neither need nor want anything else.
—Fr. Joseph Tetlow, S.J., Excerpted from Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, © 1993 Institute of Jesuit Sources, St. Louis MO