Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, we hear Mark’s account where Jesus gives the Greatest Commandment.  When asked by a scribe for the first of all commandments, Jesus does not select one of the Ten Commandments.  Whichever one he might have selected, there would be an ensuing debate about the choice.  Instead, Jesus points to parts of the famous Jewish Shema prayer. 

“Hear, O Israel!

The Lord our God is Lord alone!

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, with all your mind,

and with all your strength.

The second is this:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Hearing Jesus’ response, the scribe says that obedience to these commandments “is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  And Jesus commends his response.

God does not want external actions like sacrifices if they are offered with an empty heart.  God wants our hearts themselves.  He wants us to love him above all else.  Love of God with our entire being.  Yes, we show our love of God by doing his will in following the Ten Commandments.  But it must be founded in a total love of God.  If we love God completely, we will necessarily love our neighbor as ourselves.

If we are fully in love with God with no reservations, then we are answering the call to holiness that we all have.  This is our primary vocation…a vocation to holiness.  This is the basis for all else.  If we are answering this first call, then we can properly discern secondary vocations to marriage, priesthood, religious life, or single life.  And we can also properly discern other decisions about occupation, place to live, etc.

Whatever we do, we must do it as saints.  Or, at least wholeheartedly working, by the grace of God and with sincere prayer, toward sainthood.  There is no other legitimate option.  In Revelation, we are told that God does not want lukewarm believers: ““I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”  We are not called to be lukewarm.  We are called to be on fire in love with God by the grace of the Spirit.

We are made by God for God.  We are given this life…so that we can live a life of holiness that leads to eternal life in the next. 

Do we genuinely want to love God with our whole being?  Are we ready to allow God’s grace to lead us toward sainthood?  Or are we holding back…or holding on to something of this world?