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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Today’s Reading | Mark 12:28–34       

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. (NRSV)

This passage comes in the midst of a set of passages that are full of questions—people questioning Jesus’ authority, asking him whether it was lawful to pay taxes, whether people who were married on earth would still be married when they were resurrected, what is the first (most important) commandment. Questions. Questions. Questions. Trying to trip him up. And finally in this passage, he answers the question—and the questioner agrees with him. “You’re right. Those are the two most important things. Love God. Love each other.” No one could argue with the truth of that. And after that “no one dared to ask him any question.”

I think when I read this passage I always focus on the “love your neighbor as yourself” portion. As if that were the first commandment, instead of the second. It’s the one that I gravitate to. I like to think that it is truly the Christian perspective. Take care of each other. Forgive each other. Love each other.

But this time when I read it I noticed the emphasis on the “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.” So simple and so complete. All of you. Use all of you to love God. Your emotions, your spirit, your intellect, and your body. Love God with all of you. That’s the most important thing. “More important than whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Love God. Just love God.

Thank you God for loving me. I love you too. Amen.

Written by Jean Marie Koon, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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