Hosea 14:2-10 ● Mark 12:28-34
One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second:
‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”
In Jewish tradition, there is great respect for the give-and-take of religious debate. It was not offensive to question the rabbis or challenge their authority, and Jesus and this scholar appreciated each other’s repartee. But lest the mutual admiration for each other obscure the point of the passage, let’s not forget Jesus’ three-part answer: we must love God, ourselves, and others.
Which of these commandments are you weakest at practicing? Can you express your love for God more? Or is there a way to love your neighbor better? Or might this passage be inviting you to love yourself as much as you love God and others?
Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.