9th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 2 Tim 2:8–15
Remember Christ Jesus, risen from the dead, Jesus, son of David, as preached in my Gospel. For this Gospel I labor and even wear chains like an evildoer, but the word of God is not chained. And so I bear everything for the sake of the chosen people, that they, too, may obtain the salvation given to us in Christ Jesus and share eternal glory. This statement is true:
If we have died with him, we shall also live with him;
If we endure with him, we shall reign with him;
If we deny him, he will also deny us;
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself.
Remind your people of these things and urge them in the presence of God not to fight over words, which does no good, but only ruins those who listen. Be for God an active and proved minister, a blameless worker correctly handling the word of truth.
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.
The question: “Which commandment is the first of all?” is such a debated question among rabbis. As they tended to expand the Law into thousands of regulations, they also tried to pick out its essence and express it on the shortest form. (A rabbi was once asked to instruct someone in the Law while standing on one leg!) The scribe in today’s Gospel came with the usual question. When Jesus answered, the scribe said, “Well spoken, Master!” It was like a teacher saying, “Good boy, Johnny!” He sounded more like an examiner than a questioner. But he was better than the ones we saw yesterday and the previous day. “You are not far from the Kingdom,” said Jesus. The Kingdom is more than reciting the correct formulas: it is God’s grace invading us like a great wave and sweeping us out of our depth.
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