Friday of the Third Week of Lent
Reading 1 Hos 14:2-10
Gospel Mk 12:28-34
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.
So near and yet so far: this kingdom of God. The scribe understood the spirit of the law, the foundation of the Shema, which is love not just obedient acquiescence.
We touched on the Shema briefly in a prior meditation this week and it stands as the centerpiece of today's gospel:
"Sh'ma Yisra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad. Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. ... And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
Love of God and love of neighbor. Can I love my neighbor if I don't love God or can I love God without loving my neighbor?
Lent calls us to examine our inability to love. At it's root is selfishness which acts like a dam or prison wall that prevents the love from flowing outward and instead leads us to sin.
In the first reading God speaks to us through the prophet Hosea:
"Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the LORD, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them."
So near and yet so far. The path of the Lord is the path of love. Hear O Israel. Peace.
The Season of Lent is a special time for us to slow down, look inward and make the necessary changes to truly become an Easter people.