Wednesday, June 03, 2009

With All Your Heart

June 4, 2009

Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31


“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.” Tobit 8:5-7


Today, the scribes devise another test for Jesus. These scribes would have relished all the quizzes and trivia questions on Facebook. Jesus won’t be boxed into a corner by only selecting one commandment.

Throughout the first twelve chapters of Mark’s Gospel, we have already heard Jesus proclaim many commandment-like statements in his preaching, teaching and directing those who follow him. There is a veritable cornucopia of great Jesus-isms throughout Mark’s writing. Consider the following:

1. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
2. Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.
3. Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!
4. Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.
5. Ephphatha! (Be opened!)
6. Everything is possible to one who has faith.
7. If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.
8. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.
9. For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.
10. Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.

Despite all this wisdom, Marks indicates no hesitation in Jesus’ reply to the scribes. He did not look up at the ceiling to get some thinking time. Jesus does not repeat the question like some spelling bee contestant. Jesus did not hem and haw. He confidently enumerated to two great commandments. If we are going to live together to a happy old age, then these are the two commandments which we must follow with all our heart.


There is no room in our hearts for diversions. We can not keep a little corner set aside for our precious Jack Daniels. Or those NBA playoff tickets. Or that red Corvette or new Bernina. Jesus does not pull any punches when counting off the two greatest commandments. Nor does he hesitate on how focused we must be on each of them.

With ALL your heart.

With ALL your soul.

With ALL your mind.

With ALL your strength.

Emotionally. Spiritually. Intellectually. Physically. Jesus wants us to go ALL IN for him. Jesus only asks 100 percent of our attention on these commandments. In return, Jesus gives us everything he can give until there is nothing else left to give except his limp, lifeless body hanging nailed to a tree. He has nothing more to give.

How can we attempt to return the favor? What is your plan for acting on these two great commandments this week? Share with your group reunion what you are doing to live out each of these in your piety, study and action.

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