Greetings on this the Friday of the Third Week of Lent
Readings: Hos 14:2-10; PS 81:6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17; Mk 12:28-34
Note: Today represents something of a turning point. Up until now the focus of Lent has been compunction – a willingness to look at our thoughts and behaviors and find where they are misaligned with the divine will.
I hope you made good use of the time. Tomorrow, Saturday, is the last of the compunction readings (a loveless law-keeper) and then the readings shift to the person of Jesus. Today’s (Friday) gospel has the honor of bearing the shift. Friday is the day of reconciliation in the Church. The time honored day for confessions and fasting. A day of setting things aright.
Here on out to the Resurrection at Easter we no longer ask focus on the misalignment except for the most important one. Now that I know who he is, what is my decision? Which Way do I pick?
You have a choice before you a way of life and a way death. Choose life.
Which is the first of all the commandments?
Jesus replies with the Shema.
To this very day, every Jew replies with the Shema.
Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
The Shema could be understood to be the fullest expression of the first three commandments (One G-d none beside him, No hypocrisy in worship and keep the Sabbath holy). The second command could be understood to be the fullest expression of the last seven commandments.
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.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Having heard Jesus’ response the Scribe recounts the reason.
The Shema is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
No More Questions
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Now our grandest compunction.
Every expression of Law and Prophets must be held in the balance that is the Shema and the great commandment. The Law and the Prophets have no power to save but derive their power from the divine-human love exchange.
Where is our focus? Law? Prophets? Or Shema?
We can accept Jesus at his word.
Peace be with you,