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.
Today’s gospel reminds us of the great commandments. We must love God and love our neighbor. Though these can be seen as two separate ideas, I think they can be seen as complementary of each other. When we love those around us, we are in turn, loving God and God’s creation. We are all one in the Body of Christ. When we receive the Eucharist, it becomes part of us. So, in order to love God, we must love all those in the Body of Christ, as they too are one with God.
Let us remember in our everyday lives all those we encounter: they deserve our love, respect and understanding just as God loves us. Today’s gospel ends with Jesus affirming the scribe: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” May we always show the commandment of love by lifting up those around us just as Jesus did.
—Mark Ehrbar is Co-Director of Music at Gesu Church, University Heights, OH.
Lord, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve:
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labor and not to ask for any reward
But that of knowing we do your will. Amen.
—St. Ignatius Loyola