March 27, 2023
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Greater Than Sacrifices: Loving God with All You Are
Today we are reflecting on the Great Commandment, as recorded by Mark. In this passage, Jesus teaches us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. And as if that wasn't enough, Jesus adds a second commandment: to love our neighbor as ourselves.
It's easy to read these words and think, “Sure, I love God and my neighbor. No problem.” But the reality is that loving God and neighbor is not always easy. It's like trying to hug a cactus. It's painful, and you're not sure if the other person is really feeling the love. But Jesus isn't just asking us to give him a quick pat on the back and call it a day. He's calling us to a radical, all-encompassing love for him. A love that shapes every aspect of our lives. A love that guides us in how we treat others.
And speaking of how we treat others, loving our neighbor is not always easy either. Sometimes it feels like loving ourselves is hard enough, let alone trying to extend that love to others. But that's exactly what Jesus is calling us to do. He wants us to love others as we love ourselves, even when it's difficult.
So, during this Lenten season, let's strive to love God and our neighbor more fully. It won't be easy, but with God's help, we can hug that cactus and love others as we love ourselves.
Prayer: Lord, you call us to be holy. Give us today the grace to love as your Son loved, and to follow in his footsteps as we journey towards the Cross. You have given us your Holy Spirit; show us and convict us when we fail to love. Make us understand how those failures are wounding thorns in the crown of your beloved Son. When we are painfully aware of this, give us the understanding to praise your Son, who willingly carried that crown and died on the cross for that failure of ours. Amen.