Today, hear what Jesus had to say about commandments... we can live it out
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 31, 2021): DT 6:2-6; PS 18:2-3,3-4,47,51; HEB 7:23-28; MK 12:28-34
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Love for neighbor is not an option. It is as necessary as loving God Himself.
When a scribe asks Jesus to name the first of the Commandments, He recognizes in that man someone who actually wants to hear what He has to say. Unlike almost every encounter Christ has with religious leaders, this one is sincerely open to listening and learning. “Jesus replied, ‘The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, 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” (Mark 12:28-31). The scribe and the rest of those present would immediately recognize the first part of Jesus’ statement as coming from Deuteronomy, and which we hear for ourselves in the first reading for today. It is a prayer called the Shema, venerating God and commonly recited daily by Jews. But then, Christ adds another idea, telling us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This comes from Leviticus 19:18. By uniting these verses, as Jesus says, “there is no greater commandment than these” – we are told to take a radical look at the way we are to love others. Love for neighbor is not an option. It is as necessary as loving God Himself.
What follows is almost as surprising. The scribe agrees with Jesus. He even goes on to say loving God and your neighbor “is worth more than all burnt offering and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33). Considering the importance of such sacrifices at the Temple to the Jewish people, this is an unexpected comment. Our Lord recognizes it as such, telling him that he is not far from the kingdom of God. What Christ says about the Greatest Commandment is still as significant today, and just as hard to live. Loving God who is all goodness and mercy can be much easier than loving a neighbor who is just as imperfect and human as we are. Yet that is exactly what we need to do.
Suggested missionary action: Let us honor the First Commandment by demonstrating our love for God through our love of neighbor. We can help someone in need or trouble in our own community or in the Church’s missions both prayer and practical assistance.