St Mark 12: 28-34
Jesus is still at the temple precinct as he speaks to this scribe, this doctor of the law. Although Jesus has had previous debates with the scribes, when they sought Him out in an effort to criticize and condemn Him, this is an encounter with a scribe who genuinely seeks enlightenment and the truth. Although he has not arrived at the stage of accepting Jesus as Lord, he does respect Jesus as a teacher. The scribe is an upright person.
Which is the greatest commandment? Jesus quotes from the Book of Deuteronomy 6: 4-5 in response to this question. It became for the Jewish people a prayer that they would pray twice daily. “Hear Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength”. And then Jesus continues “the second is this, you must love your neighbour as yourself”
Jesus basically summarises the whole teaching of the Old Testament into these two commandments and links them both together. God who creates us, who gives and sustains our life has a claim on us which is absolute and total. We should repay this goodness and graciousness of God by responding to Him also in an absolute and total way, by honouring and serving Him completely.
Just as God loves all people and not only particular nations, families, tribes and races, well so should we. The Jewish people had a very limited notion of neighbour, basically their fellow Jew. Jesus understands neighbours as all of his children and that is our duty and obligation to recognise everyone without exception as children made in God’s image and likeness.
We have all heard about and seen the images of the cruel and tragic death of George Floyd. “Black lives do matter.” God does not see colour but a person. Every person is a gift from God, not only to a family but to the world. We must therefore respect the dignity of every human person otherwise we delude ourselves in saying we love God.
“It is not enough for us to say: I love God, but I do not love my neighbour. St. John says you are a liar if you say you love God and you do not love your neighbour. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbour whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live.”
St Mother Teresa of Calcutta