Grace to you!
Recently, I was chatting with a friend. He said that watching the news these days is a joke. If you watch a left-leaning news media, you hear the complete opposite of the right-leaning media. You wonder, are these talking about the same events or something completely different? Agenda setting and the framing of stories have become so skewed that, to use the word of the French film critique Jean Baudrillard, “reality is driven out of reality” (2008, p.4).
You know the proverbial "half-cup full" or "half cup empty." It is now "half cup what" and "full cup what"? When one wants to find faults, faults are everywhere. When one wants to see something positive and good, they are also everywhere. When one wants to see nothing, everything becomes bleak and mere spurious phantoms. The perspective with which we engage an inquiry matters a lot.
If you have a supervisor who wants you fired, nothing you do would ever be positive. They would find fault in them or look at them with the eye of “it has to be better” when they can’t even do it better if they were you. So is life.
I use these examples to describe the investigation into the truth of the gospel. If one wants to hear God whisper through his Word, there are resounding truths to grasp. If one has a positive attitude towards understanding the faith, such a person would have lots of exciting news to relish. Saint Anselm's faith-seeking understanding approach rings a bell.
The Scribe, who asked Jesus a question about "which commandment is the first of all" (Mk 12:28), is a great example. He approached the Lord with a positive attitude and a good disposition to discovery. He saw how his fellow Scribes had tested the Lord and wanted to trap him on the question about the resurrection (See Mark 12:18-27). He came from a different perspective. Not as a tempter but as an open enquirer.
As a Scribe, he must have been well familiar with the Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah. He must have known the decalogue pretty well. He must have learned the 613 Law precepts set forth by the scholarly Rabbis. Among them include what to do (248) and what not to do (365) plus all the fine details between aspects of those precepts that are light violations and those that are grave. He must have seen how all were drawn not just from the decalogue but also liturgical rituals, religious precepts, and the rabbinic interpretations of the natural law. He knows quite a few things about the Law. Yet, he comes to Jesus with a simple heart of discovery.
Of course, the Lord responds positively to such a heart. No one who comes seeking God with a genuine heart who does not find. "Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you" (Mt 7:7).
The Lord responds with the simplest and clearest summary of the Law and the Prophets. The first of the commandments is the love of God, and the second is the love of one another (Mk 12:30-31). In other words, the greatest of the Law is charity; it is love. As Saint Paul said, “love is the greatest” (1 Cor 13:13).
We see the openness of the Scribe demonstrated in his response. Only Saint Mark (12:32-33) documents this his response. The Scribe reaffirms what the Lord said, confirming it was consistent with the Torah and the Prophets. The Lord was pleased with the man's insight too.
You see, in following the Lord, approach with an open mind, openness to discovery, and faith-deepening. In the faith practice, when we come with the affectionate disposition, we are better for it. In our relationships with one another, some touch of pure love makes a whole lot of difference. With pure love, the kind the Lord tells us is the first; we will be serving the Lord in a big way and making the world a better place. "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8).
The famous line from Saint Augustine rings true: "Love and do whatever." He means here agape love, Christ-centered love.
I pray we love as we are loved in God.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week Ordinary Time Week 9: 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Mark 12:28-34]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.