THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
(A biblical reflection on the 31st SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [Year B] – 31 October 2021)
Gospel Reading: Mark 12:28-34
First Reading: Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Psalms: Psalm 18:2-4,47,51; Second Reading: Hebrews 7:23-28
The Scripture Text
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He answered them well, 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; and 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.” And the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher; You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other but He; 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, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that He answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask Him any question.(Mark 12:28-34 RSV)
Jesus praised the scribe for understanding that love is God’s most important commandment. Love of God and love of neighbour – these were the great commandments, Jesus told him. And the man agreed wholeheartedly.
But it is not as easy as it sounds. Real love is a great challenge to us – modern women and men – greater than ever before. We – especially people of big cities – have too many material comforts, and that tends to make people selfish. In the old days people had to struggle hard and give up much for the basic family and community needs. Children had to work hard on farms to help keep the family alive; families had to give generously of their own time and materials to build churches and community centers. This had its drawbacks, but it was a genuine gift of self, a human response, cooperation for the common needs. And it developed a sense of responsibility.
Today we do not automatically feel this great for each other. And how many people are lonely and starved for true love! An increasing flood of false literature gives a wrong picture of what human love is. If you do not have shiny teeth and soft hair and rosebud perfume, nobody will love you. We laugh at these ridiculous TV commercials, but they seep into our thinking. They make us want to get instead of give. Love then becomes a mere surface attraction which has nothing to do with real love.
What a tragedy if a beautiful home with color TV, two fine cars and all the rest, is an unhappy home, because true love is missing. There is no real love which is not open and generous and sacrificing and well-disciplined. God is love, and only those who live in real love can live in God. True love goes out of self to others. If genuine love does not actively grow and flourish in the family, how can it go out to others? Here is the parents’ first responsibility: to teach real love to their children, by having it themselves. They must learn love in order to learn of God, for God is love.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, teach me to love because God is love, and only those who live in real love can live in God. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.HisHis
Jakarta, 30 October 2021
A Christian Pilgrim