31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 27/10/2021 - Gospel: Mk 12: 28b-34
New Teaching About Love
The scribe asked Jesus, 'Which is the first of all the commandments? " He asked this question because the Scribes had been debating the topic, and could not agree which commandment was the most important. One of them asked Jesus. In just a few words, Jesus was able to sum up their many commandments from the book of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and the book of Leviticus 19:18 into two commandments: Love God and love your neighbour. The Scribes paid attention to the letter of the Law, while Jesus told them to observe not just the letter, but rather the spirit of the Law. He said,

'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second one is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself'. Mk 12:30-31

Human relationships are both simple and complicated. It is simple when the relationships are sound and friendly. It is complicated when tension arises, and human relationships are in conflict. In responding to conflicts, we often allow the mind to dominate the heart. Jesus told us the right way in responding to human conflicts is reflecting on the way God loves us. We all have personal experience of God's mercy and healing touch, we learn to love our neighbour in the same way as God has loved us. Love God and love all of God's creation fulfil the law of love. We would never be wrong to love others as God has loved us. The rule of thumb is placing God as first priority in life, and everything we say or do will flow from it, to give greater glory to God.

The Scribes believed the best way to show love of God was to sacrifice animals. Jesus taught that offering God the whole person: heart, soul, mind and strength, was far more important than animal sacrifices. Jesus' new teaching opened the Scribe's eyes. He embraced the new teaching wholeheartedly. Jesus praised him, saying: 'You are not far from the kingdom of God'.

The text says, 'No one dared to question him anymore'. The Scribes questioned Jesus no more, probably because they were afraid of knowing the truth. The more they asked, the more they revealed their own ignorance about the law of love, and that would discredit their credentials as interpreters of the law. The Scribe, who asked Jesus, was not in God's kingdom. He came nearer to God's kingdom than most of his contemporaries, but did not yet belong to God's kingdom.

The Scribes were opponents of Jesus on many fronts. They challenged Jesus' authority; they criticised Him for eating with sinners; they judged His disciples for not observing the law of purification. They judged Jesus for not observing the Sabbath. Because of their hostile attitude toward Jesus, most biblical scholars believe the Scribe came to Jesus not to follow, but simply to consult Him on the thorny matter, that he and his colleagues had been in conflicts.

Having knowledge of the Bible would not guarantee entry to God's kingdom, but believing in Jesus certainly would. Having knowledge of the Bible to score a point, to win an argument serves not God but one's own interest. It is all about intellectual victory, not spiritual. Treating God as a subject of studies is the work of a mind. Loving God as our Saviour is an act of faith. Having knowledge of the Bible teaching to serve God involves only a small part of a person, the mind of that person. Jesus told us to love God, not with part of a person, but with the entire person: all heart, all soul, all mind and all strength.