The WORD in Other Words by Fr Carlos Lariosa SVD (Philippines)
Friday 3rd Week of Lent
Hosea 14:2-10 Mark 12:28-34
A father in Agusan del Sur approached me one day to ask permission if he could name his newborn child after me. I asked him why me, and he said: “I would like my child to grow up as good as you are.” I was delighted by his words, but I had to do some soul-searching myself.
In the gospel, one of the scribes understood rightly: “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.” We heard Jesus telling him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God!”
This statement must have struck this particular scribe with surprise and joy that it must have led him to a deeper reflection on the meaning of that statement. It must have caught those others present by surprise that no one dared to ask more questions.
The Jews generally knew the Shema — the first of all the commandments — which every Jew must pray three times a day. The Pharisees even wrote this on the phylacteries which they wore with their vestment to remind them of the love of God.
Jesus used this occasion to teach the Jews something new. He allowed the scribe to freely express a logical conclusion that to love one‘s neighbor as one self was as equally important as loving God above all things. Burnt offerings and sacrifices were very important to the whole of Israel but the Law of Love was of much greater importance.