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 reading comes amidst a number of stories in Mark depicting the increasing conflict between Jesus and the various temple leaders. Repeatedly, these men come out to question Jesus in an attempt to trap him. In today’s story, however, the scribe who questions Jesus is not trying to attack him, but rather, Jesus’s wisdom draws the man, and he seeks more. Jesus senses the scribe’s desire, and so Jesus answers and leads him to an insight that is the very core of Jesus’ teaching: “‘to love [God] 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” (12:33).
What about Jesus draws me? What do I want more of from him? Show or tell him. He will respond and bring forth newness of life and love.
—Paula Sapienza is a spiritual director at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House in Sedalia, Colorado.
“Editor’s note: this reflection was written before the recent unrest and the protests around the United States. For resources on racial injustice, visit Ignatian Solidarity Network.”
Open my eyes, ears, and all my senses, Lord,
to the true desires of my heart.
Grant that in and through my longing,
you may create a way
to enter ever more fully
into the areas of my life
most in need of your love.
—Paula SapienzaPlease share the Good Word with your friends!