The Great Commandment…Practically Speaking
Today’s two Scripture selections and the Responsorial Psalm flow together as a lived application of the Great Commandment to “love God…love your neighbor…love yourself”. And as we’re close to the secular celebration of love highlighted in the ever-popular “Valentine’s Day”, these Scripture passages can be 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 flows from the prime example of Jesus and his apostles as 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 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 by Jesus, the crowds continued to pursue them – so much so that their needed rest and apostolic debriefing was put on hold while Jesus’ heart was moved, and He reached out in love for those in 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 today’s rally cry, helping us provide a prophetic outreach to our needy brothers and sisters – with the supreme example provided by Jesus Crucified.
So… Take a few moments; step aside from the hoopla and hype of Super Bowl prep, the warm fuzzies of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, the perhaps cold and frosty weather of the Northern Hemisphere. Join Jesus for a few special moments of peace and perspective in some “out of the way place”. And, let these moments be a welcome breather, a life-giver – we need God’s love that is offered to us all. Ah, those reassuring words: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want…He refreshes my soul…He guides me in right paths.” Yes! Amen.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. serves as the Province Vocation Director and also as Local Superior of the Passionist Community of Holy Name in Houston, Texas.