Thursday, March 19, 2009

Worth More than All Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

March 20, 2009

Friday of the Third Week in Lent

By Melanie Rigney

Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them. (Hosea 14:10)

I am the Lord your God: Hear my voice. (Psalms 81:11, 9a)

(After Jesus shared the two greatest commandments,) (t)he scribe said to him, “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, and all your understanding, and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:32-34)


With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, with all my strength, above all possessions and honors, above all pleasures and enjoyments, more myself and everything belonging to me, more than all my relatives and friends, more than all men and angels, I love Thee, O My God. (Adapted from Pope Pius VI’s Litany of the Love of God)


Talk about a light bulb moment!

The scribe most likely has spent much of his life studying the hundreds of Laws of Moses. He asks Jesus about the greatest commandment after hearing Christ acquit himself well amid questioning by other scribes, the chief priests, and the elders. And, voila, the scribe gets it! And what a compliment Jesus pays him: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

How far would Jesus think we are from the Kingdom of God in the way we live the two greatest commandments? Consider your own slavish devotion to ritual and judgment over love. Where are your burnt offerings and sacrifices? I’m not asking about cattle and sheep, but about the practices we all offer up in hopes of not having to actually live those two greatest and most difficult of commandments.

§ We offer up more money in the church envelope on holy days of obligation because we’re too busy to go to Mass most Sundays.

§ We offer up listening to Christian radio instead of our favorite rock oldies on the way to work because we’re too busy to spend time with God in prayer.

§ We offer up in conversation our opinions about the root causes of poverty because we’re too busy to do anything about it.

§ We offer up meaningless time spent with acquaintances because we’re too busy to truly love our neighbor, warts and all.

As today’s first reading says, the Lord’s paths are straight, but we stumble in them. Sometimes, almost anything in the world can seem easier than deepening our relationship with God and our neighbors. May we listen for His voice ... and bring our neighbors along with us on our journey to the Kingdom.


The Diocese of Arlington’s Project Rachel on Saturday will hold a one-day sacramental retreat for post-abortive women. Pray that the retreat will help the participants move closer to the Kingdom through a more loving relationship with God, others, and themselves. For more information, e-mail or call (888) 456-HOPE.

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