Ps 81:6-11, 14, 17
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.
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.
Good News Reflection:
All of Jesus’ teachings can be summed up in today’s Gospel passage: “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
When we love God fully, we can’t help but love everyone else — even the “neighbors” who make our lives difficult.
Think of the person you love the most. Is it the one who’s the easiest to serve? Do you enjoy doing good deeds for him or her? This generous love is a reflection of your love for God.
Now think of the person you love the least. Is it someone you want to refuse to serve because of how he or she has hurt you? This is also a reflection of your love — or lack of it — for God.
Jesus never said that we have to enjoy doing good to our enemies. Hey, he didn’t like being whipped and manhandled and jabbed and mocked and crucified, but that didn’t stop him from offering himself as a sacrifice for you and for me and for the people we dislike. Since he did that for us, can we at least do small deeds of goodness that are no fun to do?
Mercy means choosing to do good whether we like it or not. To love with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength means choosing to let nothing prevent us from doing good, no matter how we might actually feel about it.
Love is not always a nice feeling. But love is always a choice that brings us into unity with the One Who Is Love.
As noted in today’s first reading, on our journey of holiness we stumble in our treatment of others and sin. Then, when we ask God to forgive our iniquity, we blossom spiritually like beautiful lilies and we bear good fruit.
However, we are not capable of loving others more than we love ourselves. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Loving ourselves and doing good for our own selves (to get our needs met) gives us the confidence and freedom that we need in order to do good to others, especially when life is difficult.
Low self-esteem is not God’s plan for you. Let him heal your wounded heart. Let him correct bad messages that have cut you down. Let him point out your goodness and giftedness. Spend time observing yourself through his eyes. Pay attention to how much he appreciates you. He sees your goodness even when you can’t.
God loves you with his whole heart, his whole soul, his whole mind, and his whole strength!
Open my senses to You, my Lord, so that I can love You and my neighbors with the same love You give me. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica