The Great Commandment…Practically-Speaking
Today’s two Scripture selections and the Responsorial Psalm flow together in a lived application of the Great Commandment to “love God…love your neighbor…love yourself.” And as we’re close to the celebration of love highlighted in the ever-popular “Valentine’s Day”, these Scripture passages are a wake-up call to really let God’s love come alive in us – and in our world.
Our selection from the Letter to the Hebrews is the conclusion of the letter, issuing a call to its readers to “offer God a sacrifice of praise”…to “do his will”…and to give God glory forever and ever. At a most basic level we’re encouraged: Love God!
The writer also encourages the readers to “do good and share what you have.” Most likely this encouragement is based on the prime example of Jesus and his apostles related in the Gospel selection from Mark. The apostles gathered with Jesus to report on their tireless activities in sharing the Good News, and Jesus invited them all to go to a deserted place and rest a while…a welcome respite for any busy, hardworking person! Off in a boat, to a deserted place, a mini-retreat…Love yourself!
Eager for healing and the message of mercy and love being offered, the crowds continued to pursue them – so much so that the needed rest and apostolic debriefing was put on hold while Jesus heart was moved and He reached out in love for those in special need. These “sheep without a shepherd” were loved…Love your neighbor!
In our 21st Century world we’re often overwhelmed with vivid stories of mistrust, violence, greed, poverty, discrimination, exclusion – you name it. The rested, more contemplative spirit encouraged by Jesus helps provide a new and necessary perspective on our Christian faith meeting the needs of today’s world. The Great Commandment is our rallying cry today, helping us provide a prophetic example to our needy brothers and sisters, based on the supreme example provided by Jesus Crucified.
So… Take a few moments; step aside from the hoopla and hype of Super Bowl, the warm fuzzies of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, the cold and perhaps frosty weather of the Northern Hemisphere. Join Jesus for a few moments of peace and perspective in some “out of the way place”. And, let these moments be a welcome breather, a life-giver – God’s love continues to be offered us all, and needed by each of us. “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want…He refreshes my soul…He guides me in right paths.” Amen.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is a member of the Passionist community in Chicago, Illinois.