December 3 – Love God, Love Neighbor – Mark 12:28-34
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Advent is a time of anticipation, looking ahead to the birth of Jesus Christ. I believe it is also a time to reflect on just who Jesus Christ was, and is, and on what he taught. It is helpful then to look at a dialogue like this one, where Jesus is asked what is the most important commandment of the entire Law. There were lots of commandments to choose from. The scripture of Jesus’ day, what we call the “Old Testament”, is a long and at times confusing book. Yet Jesus boils it all down to two things: Love God and Love your neighbor.
This seems quite simple: being a follower of Jesus can be summed up in these commands, love God and love neighbor. But for those who have actually attempted it, it is amazingly difficult. How do you love those around you, your neighbors, who are often so unlovable? How do you love that family member that you cannot speak to without arguing or those people next door who are always making too much noise?
My hope for us is that we would learn to show love to those around us, both when it is easy and when it is not.