The Greatest Sacrifice of Love

Mark 12:28-34
2 Tim 2:8-15 / Psa 25

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
(Mark 12:29)

In loving God, Jesus has defined
How we must strive to reach our goal:
With all our strength, all our heart and mind,
But most of all, with all our soul.

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?” Jesus answered, “The most important one is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” The scribe replied, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but Him. 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.” 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. (Mark 12: 28-34)

Reflection

This passage is the only occasion in the Bible where a scribe agreed completely with Jesus. I recall the short but meaningful homily given by the celebrant at a noon mass we attended one day. He said genuine love entails great sacrifice, because it is always relational. It involves risking our vulnerability to be intimate with other people. We cannot love from a distance. Or from the comfort and security of a hard shell – like a clam or oyster closed tightly to protect its tender insides. God proved to us that HE is LOVE when He became man, vulnerable in all respects, even to the temptation of Satan, even unto the cross, and ultimately to be sacrificed for our sins.

Charlie Brown of the comics series said, “I love the human race. It’s people I can’t stand.” Someone also once said, “Hell is other people.” No wonder Charlie Brown never learned to smile. People who would prefer to keep their distance live in one hell of a shell. If God in all His self-sufficiency and glory could come down and join the human race, and suffer and die for our sake, then there must be more than a billion reasons why heaven is other people who all deserve to be loved.

Our God is a God of Providence, and even if He had no need of the love and adoration of His creatures, He still gave totally of Himself – if only because He could not help it, because essentially, He is Love. Love means giving until it hurts. How much more painful could the experience in Calvary be?

Thank you, Lord, for bringing me to my community of loving brothers and sisters. It is here that we can truly experience the meaning of Your words, “to love your neighbor as yourself.”

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