One of 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.
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
“Get your priorities straight!” When someone says that, I hear the voice of my father, from when I was little—maybe not in those words, but telling me to concentrate on what was important. These days, with “lots on my plate” to do each day, I need to prioritize. I find myself so easily distracted by things that I like to do, or things that don’t involve conflict or pain!
That’s the message from today’s Scriptures. Jesus, drawing on the Old Testament, where Moses calls the people to love God totally, gives us the priorities of the Kingdom: Love of God and love of neighbor. That’s Christ’s answer to the scribe, who wants to know what the first of all the commandments is. Jesus quotes a text which was used as a daily prayer by faithful Jews: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is Lord alone!” Then he goes on to add the love of neighbor as ourself—something that flows naturally from love of God.
In these days, when so many other things distract us, calling for our time and energy, we need these Christian priorities. Whether it’s within the parish, or in our family life, or beyond—in our world, if we focus on God first, then on loving others because of our relationship with God—we’ll have our priorities straight. And then, we can properly evaluate everything else.
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In this week's first reading (Dt 6:2-6), what is the promise given to those who keep God’s commandments?
Jewish people recite verses five and six every day. What is the message given here?
According to the second reading (Heb 7:23-28), could the Jewish priests remain forever? Why or why not?
Jesus is an eternal priest because he died once for all. So, he did not need daily sacrifices for his own sins.
In the Gospel (Mk 12:28b-34), an expert in the Law asked Jesus which is the first commandment. What was Jesus’ answer?
What is the second commandment according to Jesus?
What did Jesus tell the man who asked this question?
Make a list of ways that you could live out the second commandment. Try to think of the idea of neighbor as someone other than those who live close around you. See if you and your family can do some of the things you wrote down.
Even though we only hear about the first two commandments today, we know there are eight more. Create a version of the commandments that you can hang somewhere in your house as a reminder to incorporate them in your daily life. You can make an artistic one or just print out a list.