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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 neighbour 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 neighbour 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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
It seems pretty simple from today’s Gospel what Jesus desires from each of us. It also seems clear what he doesn’t want from us. He doesn’t want empty promises and meaningless practices. He desires that we love our God and each other. Jesus references the Shema, the greatest of Jewish prayers to express that everything we do stems from loving God with everything we are. It can be difficult during Lent to see past the restrictions and obligations we place on ourselves to express our faith. We measure a successful Lent on how many days we have given up chocolate.
However, Jesus wants to remember the essentials, the non-negotiable of our faith – to love God and others. As the third week of Lent comes to a close, how have you loved God this week – with your heart, your understanding, and your strength? How have you shown love for God’s greatest creation, your family, friends, co-workers?
—Catherine M. Mifsud, MA is a member of the faculty of St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans, where she teaches Theology. Catherine volunteers her time both on the Diocese of Baton Rouge Charis Retreat Leadership Team and for the Archdiocese of New Orleans Charis Team.
Stir up your power, loving God. Give new life to our hearts, our relationships, our love of those around us. These holy days of Lent help me bring all the concerns of my life to the foot of your cross. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!