2 Timothy 2:8-15
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: Sticking to the truth
What is truth? It’s the question that Pilate asked Jesus, and it’s the question that you and I are asked (implied or overtly) whenever we speak the truth and someone doesn’t want to believe it.
In today’s first reading, we learn that we are acceptable to God if we share with others the word of truth without deviation or compromise. Our true faith is revealed when we persevere in the truth — not only with our lips but with our lives, even when it’s inconvenient or unpopular and causes us hardships.
If we cling to the truth no matter what, we remain in God. It’s our protection against slipping away from Christ and failing to reach heaven.
The founder of the Missionary Society of St. Paul, Servant of God Father Isaac Hecker, explained it this way: “The human mind was made by its Creator for truth, and in the absence of truth it ceases to live. When it refuses its assent to truth it is either because the truth has been travestied and made to appear false, or because it is seen through a distorted medium. For the intellect is powerless to reject truth … except by committing a crime against it. It is not in the search for truth, but in the tranquil possession of truth and appropriation of it by contemplation, that man finds the fullest, purest joy. (The Church and the Age, 94-95, published 1887)
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. If we deny any truths, we deny him, and if we completely reject him, he denies knowing us, because he no longer recognizes us, because we look like Satan the Father of Lies and not like our Heavenly Father. We were made in the image of God, and in our baptisms we were purged of the disfiguring mark of Original Sin and were reborn into God’s likeness. But anyone who deliberately turns away from the truth about Jesus loses that likeness.
Whenever we’re unfaithful to the truth, living as if the ways of Christ are not good and are not conveyed through the teachings of the Church, behaving as if God isn’t real or doesn’t care, we’re turning away from the truth and from Jesus who is the Truth. Venial sins are small turnings; we’re looking away from Jesus without walking away. Mortal sins take us far from God’s love and Christ’s salvation, killing our eternal souls.
Yet no matter how far we turn, no matter how unfaithful to the truth we become, Jesus remains faithful to us. He waits and hopes and dreams of our return. He steps in front of us trying to get our attention. He becomes a stumbling stone so that we trip and fall and realize that we need help to get up and get going in the right direction. Are you worried about a loved one who has stopped going to church? Remember that Jesus is doing something about it.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus defines truth in simple terms: Love — love for God, caring about him first and above all other priorities and desires, and loving others as much as ourselves, caring about their needs as much as our own. Every truth is rooted in love.
When we fail to love, we violate the truth. We violate Jesus. And yet, there he remains faithfully standing beside us, waiting for us to recognize our sin and turn to him for healing and reconciliation.
Father God, I want to love everyone unconditionally, as Jesus loves them, the way Jesus has given me his love. Lord Jesus, You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Make the truth plainly obvious to me. Holy Spirit, give me better understanding of the truth and help me to humble myself in love for others. Help me to serve them the way Jesus wants to serve them through me, so that the truth of salvation spreads to others. Amen!
Beloved Father: Help the desire for loving You and others without conditions root in my heart, as Your Son Jesus loved us without measure till the end. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica