“When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’” (Mark 12:34)
Today, a Scribe probably feeling exhausted over the various attempts to find fault with Jesus came to inquire about the most important thing of all. In answering him, Jesus quoted the book of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Jesus quickly added Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Even though Jesus quoted texts from the Old Testament, notice that Jesus combines the commandment to love God and the commandment to love our neighbours thereby showing us that loving God implies loving our neighbours.
St. John would later explain further when he said: “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20). Loving God demands that we are able to see God in our fellow human beings not minding the colour of their skin or where they come from.
On hearing Jesus’ response, the Scribe added: “To love one’s neighbour as oneself is more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices.” This is exactly the point Jesus made when He noted: “If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”(Matthew 5:23-24).
Jesus was so impressed with the Scribe’s response that He said: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” If we understand the importance of loving others as we should, we cannot miss attaining eternal life in heaven.
The words of St. Paul to Timothy in our first reading today are worth repeating again and again. “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to see you and love you in my neighbours. Amen. Bible Study: 2nd Timothy 2:8-15, Psalm 25:4-14, Mark 12:28-34).