(A commentary on Mark 12: 28-34)
Daily Reflection – 34/12/2021
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” 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 your 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.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34)
The scribe in today’s Gospel stands as a stark reminder of so many people. He not only knew God’s law, he also agreed with it. How’s that a problem? It’s a problem because he stopped there. Though he agreed with God’s law on a surface level, he didn’t allow it to change him.
He was like some people who think they’re Christians but are really only interested in theology. They like to use their mind to think about God but never really give their mind over to God. Theology becomes merely a hobby. It remains intellectual and theoretical. It’s a point of conversation and debate. It doesn’t settle down into the heart.
So, the key question for us is: Do you know God or do you only know about God?
That’s the all-important distinction. It is possible to know God’s words inside and out but it does us no good at all if we don’t know Jesus. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). Knowing scripture isn’t enough. If all we do is know it, we will be not far from the kingdom but not in the kingdom. We must have more.
What does it mean to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength? Well, for starters, it means that we must give all of our ourselves over to God. He doesn’t want just a part of us, he requires the whole thing—heart, soul, mind, and strength—full tilt all the time without fail. God must come first in everything we feel, think, and do.
But being a follower of Christ is not solely about our relationship with Jesus. It is tempting to believe that all you need to do is accept Jesus as your personal Lord and savior, and work on that relationship, and that’s it.
Jesus then adds the second part,” You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
In a sense, it is impossible just to love God and ignore the people around us. God has placed in your life thousands, upon thousands of icons of himself. Each person you encounter is a walking, talking, image and likeness of the Lord. God commands us to treat each person we meet as such. Jesus does not call us just to be polite. He calls us to love the way we would want to be loved. That means when we see someone in need, we act the way we would want someone to move toward us if we were in need.
A great checkup is to walk through your day as if Jesus walked through it with you. Would he have laughed at the show you were watching? What would his reaction be to the websites you visited or the email or tweet you sent? What about the things you said when you lost your temper? Did you reach out to another who was in need or walk by?
Love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself. Just Imagine if we became radical in our love of God and neighbor? I mean that. Just let your mind wander and imagine how each of living out the radical love of God could change our world. Let that inspire you. Now move. Go. Love in His name.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, I pray that you dwell in my heart, keep watch over my lips, my steps, and my deeds. Give us in our hearts pure love, born of your love for us, so that we may love others as you have loved us.”
What does God require of us? Simply that we love as he loves! God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us. God loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding grace and kindness towards us. The love of God comes first and the love of neighbor is firmly grounded in the love of God. The more we know of God’s love and truth the more we love what he loves and reject what is hateful and contrary to his will. When we live in His love then we can claim that we know Him.