3rd Week of Lent
1st Reading: Hos 14:2-10
Return to your God Yahweh, O Israel! Your sins have caused
your downfall. Return to Yahweh with humble words. Say to
him, “Oh you who show compassion to the fatherless forgive
our debt, be appeased. Instead of bulls and sacrifices, accept
the praise from our lips. Assyria will not save us: no longer
shall we look for horses nor ever again shall we say ‘Our gods’
to the work of our hands.” I will heal their wavering and love
them with all my heart for my anger has turned from them.
I shall be like dew to Israel like the lily will he blossom. Like
a cedar he will send down his roots; his young shoots will
grow and spread. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his
fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar. They will dwell in my shade
again, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like
a vine, and their fame will be like Lebanon wine. What would
Ephraim do with idols, when it is I who hear and make him
prosper? I am like an ever-green cypress tree; all your fruitfulness
comes from me. Who is wise enough to grasp all this?
Who is discerning and will understand? Straight are the ways
of Yahweh: the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
A teacher of the Law had been listening to this discussion and admired how Jesus answered them. So he came up and asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”
Jesus answered, “The first is: Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes another one: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”
The teacher of the Law said to him, “Well spoken, Master; you are right when you say that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”
Jesus approved this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
They asked him to mention one law, but he mentioned two. This was the clearest way of saying that they cannot be separated. There is no real love of God without love of neighbor, and no love of neighbor without love of God. (But many love God unawares.) If these two cannot be separated, they are really only one in practice – like two hands.
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