I know that I’ve said it before – many times – but it bears repeating since it is the beginning of the Holy Gospel that we hear today: “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.” (Mark 12:27ff)
FYI If there is only one thing that a faithful Jew knows it would be “The Shema, Israel” found in Deuteronomy 6 click on this link and read verses 4-9 This scripture passage is where the Orthodox Jews pick up the notion of the widened phylacteries and the practice of having that little symbol a – “Mezuzah” – that is attached to the door post that they reverently touch as the enter and leave the house.
What you’ll notice is that Jesus picks up on this well-known passage but then adds the clincher: “your neighbor as yourself!” Hearing these words of Jesus, the scribe responds, “You have answered wisely” and then Jesus says, “You are not far from the Kingdom!”
It’s all like an outline:
— the Lord is Lord alone —love God with all your heart— with all your soul
— with all your mind— with all your strength— and your neighbor as yourself
You might try to use the above as a kind of “examination of conscience” during this Lenten Season. It might help to put it in the form of questions: “Is the Lord my Lord alone?” when / how have I loved him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?And then, don’t forget the “corker!” AND my neighbor as myself!
If you can follow this as honestly as you can you’ll hear the Lord say, “You are not far from the Kingdom!” Amen!