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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Mark 12, 28-34

One of the scribes who had listened to them debating appreciated that Jesus had given a good answer and put a further 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, only 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 burnt offering 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.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The passage from the Gospel of Mark we have heard unfolds in the context of Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem. Amidst the ever more threatening hostility of the leaders of the people comes a sincere request made by a scribe who turns to Jesus and asks: "Which commandment is the first of all?" In general, a scribe knows the Law well, but now this scribe comes to the Teacher not to put him to the test, but to learn a decisive lesson from him. He is right to do so, because no one can be his or her own teacher. We all need to ask the Lord about the true meaning of the Scriptures for our lives. Unfortunately, we often forget to listen to the Scriptures or to gather in prayer, thinking that we already know what to do and how to live. This is the sin of self-sufficiency. We think we can even do without God and his word. This scribe stands before us today and asks Jesus on our behalf: "What is the heart of the Gospel?" Jesus responds that the "first commandment" is twofold: love God and love your neighbour. These two loves cannot be separated; in fact, they form one love, one thing. The apostle John writes: "Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen" (1 John 20). Jesus, who loved God more than anything else, more than his own life, and who equally loved men and women more than everything else, more than his own life, offers us the highest example of how to keep the "first commandment." The scribe, satisfied with Jesus’ answer, hears that he is not far from the kingdom of God. Much more has been given to us than to that scribe. Let us learn from him at least his willingness to ask and his readiness to receive.

Memory of Jesus crucified