One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’
Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must 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 must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’
The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.
Gospel for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
So often the Gospels tell us of controversy – disagreements and tensions between Jesus and his co-religionists. It is good to hear also of an encounter that concludes with Jesus and a fellow Jew confirming each other in their faith, and responsibilities!
The tension between Jews and Christians has often been to the shame of the Church. So too her suppression and persecution of peoples of other faiths or religions too.
The Church rightly has a duty to share revealed truth about Jesus Christ, but humbly, with the same respect that the Lord God affords us.
After all, as this Gospel shows, whatever differences we notice, we also share in what is most important, and what comes next to it…
The blindfolded Synagogue… Plaster cast of figure from Strasbourg. In collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.