First Reading: Deuteronomy 6: 2-6
Second Reading: Hebrews 7:23 – 28
Gospel: Mark 12: 28 – 34
We work hard; we dream wonderful dreams about our life and do all that we can to make those
dreams come true. If we are asked, “What are you living for?” each one of us would give answer
based on our individual perspective about life. Many among us find it hard to get a proper
answer. Since they are not fully satisfied with the existing answers, they end up in pessimistic
outlook on life and that leads them to suicide, eccentric behavior, drug-addiction, murder and so
on. However, this sort of question is a legitimate one of the whole humanity from ancient days.
In a very experiential way they got proper answers in the idea of God. They accepted that they
came from him, they lived by him and the goal of their life pursuit was to go to him. Therefore
they too believed that, their entire life is only a response to the love of God; they said” we work
hard not only to earn our living but show our love to him; we pass through this drudgery of life
with all its pains, sufferings and disappointments, just to reciprocate our love for Him.
“Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, whole mind, with your whole soul and with all
your strength”. We should always keep in mind that such a command was not just a condition for
entering into his heaven but much more, it was the basic and primary source and motivation for
human life on earth.
However, as the people encounter some difficulty to show their love directly to God, because of
their physical limitation, an in order to express their love through some outward actions, they
almost in all religions, created and invented thousand and one symbols, signs, rituals, and called
them as religious practices; codes in order to safeguard their religious practices intact. This is
why having been surrounded by thousands of regulations in his religion, the scribe in the Gospel
asks Jesus: ‘what is the first of all the commandments?’ Actually, they had forgotten the primary
and the basic commandment for which all the other regulations had been invented. The people
were so preoccupied with those outward offerings and modes of services and rituals, that they
completely ignore the love command of their God.
In the Gospel today, Jesus seemed t be happy about the two additions made by the same scribe to
his answer: first one was that ‘yes, you are right; He is the one and there is no other than He’.
Jesus made him understand the fact that there should be no distraction or dissipation whatever, in
the choice of God as the sole motivation for our life, no other goal is genuine and proper to give
meaning to our human life; whatever we think, we speak and do, must start and end in the love of
God. Also, the scribe was appreciating what Jesus said about, the love of neighbor along with the
first commandment on love of God. He, we are sure, was reminded of the Psalmist’s words and
recognized the useless and meaningless distraction of the Jewish people on the peripheral
practices such as sacrifices and offerings and omitting the important and the only way of showing
the love to God. Therefore he said, ‘to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than any
burnt offering or sacrifice.
It is true that it is not that easy to live with others, much worse to love them just for their sake and
for the sake of God. That is why a French philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, could exclaim: “Hell is
nothing but our on neighbor.” This is every one’s experience in life. Especially at this modern
time of self-glorification and individualistic coronation, it is all the more difficult to live and love
the other. And we know at the same time that there is no other better alternative way to show and,
express our love to God. Isn’t there truth in St John says in his letter, ‘how can we say that we
love God who is invisible while we hate the neighbor who is visible? There is no doubt about the
difficulty to love the neighbor as ourselves. It is what Jesus named as the narrow path to heaven.
While God is so generous, broadminded and almighty, why should only the gat to his heaven be
narrow? It is not actually narrow, rather it is in fact very broad and as wide as God’s love. But it
is we who make it or judge it as narrow. While I alone pass through this gate, it is convenient and
pleasant and it has enough space to move and jog around. But when my neighbors join me an
when all of us enter the gate simultaneously, there comes the difficulty; I am squeezed, I am hurt
and I and my everything is being shared. There my life becomes difficult; burdensome; and the
gate of life becomes narrow!
God wants us today through his words to accept the fact of our life, literally “Torn between two
loves”. It is actually tension-filled life for a true Christian to lead a life of love shared between
both God and neighbor. However, we should not forget the fact that there is only one love which
is the basic and original source and motivation for our love life, and that is the first command:
“Love your God with your whole heart, whole mind, whole soul and with all your strength.”