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.
Love: a simple four letter word that implies so much. Do we really understand the true meaning of the love Jesus instructs us to have? I thought of a woman from my parish, who lost her young son many years ago, due to gang violence. I didn’t know her at the time when her son was killed, but knew of her son’s passing because he was from our community.
People still remember his mother, Señora Arellano, from her actions at his funeral Mass. They recall how the woman stood up in front of the congregation and stated she forgave the person who killed her son. Her son’s life mattered, the killer’s life mattered…she was acting out of love. Even though she was suffering, she was willing to forgive. She understood what God calls us to do, love, even in our saddest moments. I imagine Jesus telling her, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
—Cecilia Hernandez works in the Vocations Office for the Midwest Jesuits.
Lord, we pray for a full understanding of the love Jesus calls us to have. May we fully understand what you ask of us as we live our daily life. May we see you in the lives of others who are different from us and may we recall that you are in them.