Theme: A people of the Temple follow Christ in the way of suffering love
Mark 11:27; 12:13, 28-34
(excerpted; fresh translation)
Jesus and his disciples went again to Jerusalem.
As he was walking in the temple,
the religious authorities approached him.
They wanted to lure him into saying something that would trap him.
One scholar asked him,
“Which is the first—the most important—of all the commandments?”
“The first of the commandments is this:
‘Listen, Israel! We have one God!
Love your God with all your heart,
all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength!’ *
This is the second commandment:
‘Love your neighbor like yourself.’ **
No other commandment is greater than these two.”
* Deuteronomy 6:4-5
** Leviticus 19:18
According to the chronology in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus returns to the Temple yet again on Tuesday. While he is in the Temple, the religious authorities—who, after Monday’s protest, fear Jesus’s influence on the people—pose various questions, hoping to lure him into saying something incriminating. One of these is the famous question about whether to pay taxes to Caesar. A scholar who is impressed by Jesus’s answers to his opponents’ “gotcha” questions then asks him, apparently sincerely, which is the greatest commandment.
I have taken you to be my only God.
I have vowed to love you with all my heart.
I have vowed to be faithful to you.
I have vowed not to pursue rival loves.
You have asked me to live my love for you
by directing it toward my neighbor—
always treating other people as lovingly
as I would treat them if they were me.
Am I faithful to God—and, by extension, to my neighbor? In one sense, no, because I don’t devote myself to God’s work as wholeheartedly as I should or give to other people as generously as I should. That’s why I’m a sinner and always will be, as long as I live.
But is there another sense in which I can say, yes, I am faithful to God—and therefore also to my neighbor—in the same way that I can say, yes, I am faithful to my husband? I don’t love my husband as wholeheartedly and generously as I should; but I am committed to him exclusively. I organize my life around him, and rearrange my life for him, in ways I do not do for anyone else.
If that’s the model for thinking about my love of God, which I express through love of neighbor—in what ways do I organize or rearrange my life around other people’s needs?