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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (2Tim 2:8-15): Beloved: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my Gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen. Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation.
Responsorial Psalm: 24
R/. Teach me your ways, o Lord.
Your ways, o Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.

Good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way.

All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees. The friendship of the Lord is with those who fear him, and his covenant, for their instruction.
Versicle before the Gospel (2Tim 1:10): Alleluia. Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mk 12,28-34): 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.

«There is no other commandment greater than these»

Fr, Rodolf PUIGDOLLERS i Noblom SchP (La Roca del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, in Mark's Gospel, one of the scribes asks Jesus: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” (Mk 12:28). The question is somewhat cunning. In the first place, because he is trying to establish some sort of ranking amongst the different commandments. Secondly, because his question is centered in the Law. It’s clear, the question comes from a master of the Law.

The Lord's answer takes to pieces the spirituality of that “master of the Law” And the attitude of the disciple of Jesus with respect to God can be summed up in two points: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Mk 12:30) and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31). The religious behavior is defined in his relationship with God and with his neighbor; and the human behavior, in his relationship with the others and with God. St. Augustine says the same with other words: “Love God, and do whatever you please”. Love God and love the others, and all the rest will just be a consequence of this plenitude of love.

The teacher of the Law understands it perfectly well. And he adds that to love God with all one’s heart, and one’s neighbor as oneself, “is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mk 12:33). God is awaiting our reply, our total deliverance, “with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength” (Mk 12:30), for God means Truth, Goodness, and generous dedication to others. “Offerings and sacrifices” have a meaning only insofar they will be the true expression of this double love. And to think that, at times, we use the “little commandments” and “the offerings and sacrifices” as stumbling-block to criticize or wound others!

Jesus approves the reply of the master of the Law with “You are not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mk 12:34). For Jesus, whoever loves his neighbor over everything else is not far from God.