A reading from the holy Gospel of Mark 12: 28b-34
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
REFLECTION: " To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Has there been a time you were not lovable?.........
You were loved before Creation. You were loved in your clumsiness, ugliness, sinfulness, rudeness, unmanneredness, and filthiness. Think of the way you were loved when you were not lovable. Think of the way you were loved when you were most undesirable.
Would you love someone who was not worthy of love? --A sinner, a fallen away priest, a robber, a drug addict or someone who hurt you or your family? We are commanded to love our neighbor, BUT not the sin.
Jesus appeared for the first time on Resurrection Day (Easter) to the apostles after they deserted him on Good Friday and his first words were "My Brethren, Peace be with you." Jesus then and now brings forgiveness and assurances of his friendship inspite of our fallen and weak nature.
But Jesus does not say--Don't worry, all is forgiven, let us go on with our lives--No, he does not leave us after"Peace be with you" but he shows us his nail marks, his lanced chest and his dislocated torn shoulder. When we realize what our sins have done to God made man, in this most humbling moment, that is when God meets us and offers us forgiveness and friendship and offers his peace.
Without any stipulation of how lovable you needed to be, God sent his Son to save us from the Devil. God wanted so much to pour out His love for us that He sent the Holy Spirit. And it is this life of God that lives in us that has us thanking Him for all that He has done for us --for the time we needed refuge, the time we needed love, the time our enemies were surrounding us, the struggles and trials we undergo, the illnesses, the loneliness...God's love is forever in us.
His Kingdom lives in us. And as with any loyal followers or brides of the king, we follow no matter what, just because we want to be with him all the time though we might not know where we are going. We want to be with Him all the time, not really knowing where this journey with Him will take us, but we love Him so much and want to be in His company so much that we will stay with Him no matter what. It is no longer what can I get from God, but it is how can I show Him my love.
And how can we show God our love? Love His Son, love through deeds, run to God daily for all our needs, thank God with a joyful spirit of thanksgiving and for His many blessings, be loyal to God no matter what happens in our lives or where we find ourselves. Genuflect properly, no talking in church, showing up on time for Mass, donating of our time and money and doing acts of mercy such as feeding the homeless, visiting the nursing homes, working at a soup kitchen. On and on and on--so many ways to love our God and our neighbor.
PRAYER: Dear God, I thank you for loving me. For the times I hated, I lied, and was unkind, please forgive me. I am sorry, I love you, please bless me. Remind me how what I do offends you and give me the gift of loving you without any conditions. Teach me, Lord, how best to love you. Amen.
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