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
As a high school teacher, I am struck as I read this passage by what the scholar of the law says to Jesus after he speaks of the importance of loving God and loving our neighbor. He responds to Jesus by saying, “Well said, teacher.” I think of my students before me when they give me feedback that is unsolicited, surprising, and refreshing.
I wonder what Jesus thought to himself, or what he felt, as a peer of his confirmed his beliefs. Maybe he felt closer to God and that he was on the right track in his life. I know this is the case for me in the classroom. My students confirm me in my vocation.
It could be worth thinking of this short gospel passage less as a pronouncement of Jesus´ than as his sharing his beliefs with another. It is God who drives him and fills him with hope. This scholar felt the same. They both shared how God is everything to them.
You and I might ask ourselves with whom do we share what is truly on our mind and heart. Is prayer the time where I share what is on my heart? Have I had the chance recently to tell God how much God means to me? Are their people in my life who refresh me with their unsolicited, spontaneous sharing?
I can pray to Jesus, who knew how to share himself with others, that he might help me share who I am with God, so that the Kingdom might come nearer to me.
—Christopher Staab, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Chicago IL
Lord, when we feel rushed, overwhelmed by all the commitments, slow us down. Let your Spirit remind us to keep perspective. If we but take a few minutes to be in your presence, to speak from our heart and wait on you, we will be centered and fortified to better serve others. We thank you for those in our day who will refresh us and help us to be more content, more joyful, and more giving.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team