Father Edward McIlmail, LC
the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which
is the first of all the commandments?" 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." The 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, with all your understanding,
with 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." And no one dared
to ask him any more questions.
Introductory Prayer:Lord, I
come before you humbly. As one who has frequently
fallen into sin, I am aware of my weakness. Your
great love, though, assures me that your grace can
keep me on the path to holiness.
me live according to the New Testament.
1. Getting Beyond Myself:
A scribe asks Jesus a pointed question and assumes
that there is only a one-step answer. In fact,
Jesus goes beyond a one-step response and links love of
God with love of neighbor. "Whoever says he is
in the light, yet hates his brother, is still
in the darkness" (2 John 1:9). Christianity is not strictly
a me-and-Jesus affair; such a faith can fall into
self-centeredness and disdain for the world. We are called
to be leaven in the world, to bring light to
the darkness. Jesus wants us to be his arms
and legs and voice in the world. Am I
content to say prayers and make weekly Mass ― but
to do little else? Might God be asking me
to get more involved in the parish? In the school?
In some kind of charity work?
2. The Gift of
Self Is the Greatest Gift: The scribe senses that
burnt offerings are not enough. Burnt offerings are something
external to us. We let go of things (money, used
clothes, old furniture) much faster than we let go
of our time, our way of thinking. We give
things but not ourselves. Am I loathe to give more
of my time to help the Church? Why?
of God’s Demands: The scribes understood that Jesus was
raising the bar on religious observance. Sacrificing a sheep
or a goat wasn´t enough anymore. Christ wanted them to
give of themselves ― and that left them uneasy.
The Old Testament sacrifices were giving way to the
New Testament sacrifice ― the very sacrifice of self. That´s
what Jesus wanted; that´s what Jesus himself gave. He
gave himself up to a cross to confound our
self-love. Does it scare me to die to myself? To
my whims? What is Jesus asking of me that
makes me uneasy?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know it´s
costly for me to let go of my own
way of thinking, to give of my time. Help me
realize that this may be the more perfect offering
that you seek from me.
Resolution:I will offer to
do a favor that is costly in personal terms.