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From: Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment of All

[28] One of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and
seeing that He (Jesus) answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment
is the first of all?” [29] Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord
our God, the Lord is one; [30] and you shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
[31] The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no
other commandment greater than these.” [32] And the scribe said to Him, “You
are right, Teacher; You have truly said that He is one, and there is no other than
He; [33] and to love with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all
the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole
burnt offerings and sacrifices.” [34] And when Jesus saw that he answered wise-
ly, He said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that no
one dared to ask Him any question.


28-34. The doctor of the law who asks Jesus this question is obviously an upright
man who is sincerely seeking the truth. He was impressed by Jesus’ earlier reply
(verses 18-27) and he wants to learn more from Him. His question is to the point
and Jesus devotes time to instructing him, though he will soon castigate the
scribes, of whom this man is one (cf. Mark 12:38ff).

Jesus sees in this man not just a scribe but a person who is looking for the truth.
And His teaching finds its way into the man’s heart. The scribe repeats what Je-
sus says, savoring it, and our Lord offers him an affectionate word which encou-
rages his definitive conversion: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” This
encounter reminds us of His meeting with Nicodemus (cf. John 3:1ff). On the doc-
trinal content of these two commandments cf. note on Matthew 22:34-40.

[Note on Matthew 22:34-40 states:

In reply to the question, our Lord points out that the whole law can be condensed
into two commandments: the first and more important consists in unconditional
love of God; the second is a consequence and result of the first, because when
man is loved, St. Thomas says, God is loved, for man is the image of God (cf.
“Commentary on St. Matthew”, 22:4).

A person who genuinely loves God also loves his fellows because he realizes
that they are his brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, redeemed by
the same blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: “This commandment we have from Him,
that he who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). However, if we
love man for man’s sake without reference to God, this love will become an obsta-
cle in the way of keeping the first commandment, and then it is no longer genuine
love of our neighbor. But love of our neighbor for God’s sake is clear proof that we
love God: “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 John

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”: here our Lord establishes as the guide-
line for our love of neighbor the love each of us has for himself; both love of others
and love of self are based on love of God. Hence, in some cases it can happen
that God requires us to put our neighbor’s need before our own; in others, not: it
depends on what value, in light of God’s love, needs to be put on the spiritual and
material factors involved.

Obviously spiritual goods take absolute precedence over material ones, even over
life itself. Therefore, spiritual goods, be they our own or our neighbor’s, must be
the first to be safeguarded. If the spiritual good in question is the supreme one
for the salvation of the soul, no one is justified in putting his own soul into certain
danger of being condemned in order to save another, because given human free-
dom we can never be absolutely sure what personal choice another person may
make: this is the situation in the parable (cf. Matthew 25:1-13), where the wise
virgins refuse to give oil to the foolish ones; similarly St. Paul says that he would
wish himself to be rejected if that could save his brothers (cf. Romans 9:3)—an
unreal theoretical situation. However, what is quite clear is that we have to do all
we can to save our brothers, conscious that, if someone helps to bring a sinner
back to the way, he will save himself from eternal death and cover a multitude of
his own sins (James 5:20). From all this we can deduce that self-love of the right
kind, based on God’s love for man, necessarily involves forgetting oneself in order
to love God and our neighbor for God.]

30. This commandment of the Old Law, ratified by Jesus, shows, above all, God’s
great desire to engage in intimate conversation with man: “would it not have suf-
ficed to publish a permission giving us leave to love Him? [...]. He makes a stron-
ger declaration of His passionate love for us, and commands us to love Him with
all our power, lest the consideration of His majesty and our misery, which make
so great a distance and inequality between us, or some other pretext, divert us
from His love. In this He well shows that He did not leave in us for nothing the na-
tural inclination to love Him, for to the end that it may not be idle, He urges us by
His general commandment to employ it, and that this commandment may be ef-
fected, there is no living man He has not furnished him abundantly with all means
requisite thereto” (St. Francis de Sales, “Treatise on the Love of God”, Book 2,
Chapter 8).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 03/15/2012 9:13:46 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd

Mass Readings

The alternative readings given here may be used on any day this week, especially if the Gospel story of the Samaritan woman was not read on Sunday.

First reading Hosea 14:2-10 ©
The Lord says this:
Israel, come back to the Lord your God;
your iniquity was the cause of your downfall.
Provide yourself with words
and come back to the Lord.
Say to him, ‘Take all iniquity away
so that we may have happiness again
and offer you our words of praise.
Assyria cannot save us,
we will not ride horses any more,
or say, “Our God!” to what our own hands have made,
for you are the one in whom orphans find compassion.’
– I will heal their disloyalty,
I will love them with all my heart,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will fall like dew on Israel.
He shall bloom like the lily,
and thrust out roots like the poplar,
his shoots will spread far;
he will have the beauty of the olive
and the fragrance of Lebanon.
They will come back to live in my shade;
they will grow corn that flourishes,
they will cultivate vines
as renowned as the wine of Helbon.
What has Ephraim to do with idols any more
when it is I who hear his prayer and care for him?
I am like a cypress ever green,
all your fruitfulness comes from me.
Let the wise man understand these words.
Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning.
For the ways of the Lord are straight,
and virtuous men walk in them,
but sinners stumble.

First reading Exodus 17:1-7 ©
The whole community of the sons of Israel moved from their camp in the desert of Zin at the Lord’s command, to travel the further stages; and they pitched camp at Rephidim where there was no water for the people to drink. So they grumbled against Moses. ‘Give us water to drink’ they said. Moses answered them. ‘Why do you grumble against me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?’ But tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’ Moses appealed to the Lord.
  ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’ This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

Psalm Psalm 80:6,8-11,14,17 ©
I am the Lord your God: listen to my warning.
A voice I did not know said to me:
  ‘I freed your shoulder from the burden;
your hands were freed from the load.
  You called in distress and I saved you.
I am the Lord your God: listen to my warning.
‘I answered, concealed in the storm cloud;
  at the waters of Meribah I tested you.
Listen, my people, to my warning.
  O Israel, if only you would heed!
I am the Lord your God: listen to my warning.
‘Let there be no foreign god among you.
  no worship of an alien god.
I am the Lord your God,
  who brought you from the land of Egypt.
I am the Lord your God: listen to my warning.
‘O that my people would heed me,
  that Israel would walk in my ways!
But Israel I would feed with finest wheat
  and fill them with honey from the rock.’
I am the Lord your God: listen to my warning.

Psalm Psalm 94:1-2,6-9 ©
O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’
Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
  hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
  with songs let us hail the Lord.
O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’
Come in; let us bow and bend low;
  let us kneel before the God who made us:
for he is our God and we
  the people who belong to his pasture,
  the flock that is led by his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’
O that today you would listen to his voice!
  ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
  as on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test;
  when they tried me, though they saw my work.’
O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Gospel Acclamation
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
The seed is the word of God, Christ the sower;
whoever finds this seed will remain for ever.
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
Or Mt4:17
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
Repent, says the Lord,
for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.
Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
Gospel Mark 12:28-34 ©
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 Acclamation cf.Ps94:8
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Or cf.Jn4:42,15
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Lord, you are really the saviour of the world:
give me the living water, so that I may never get thirsty.
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Gospel John 4:5-42 ©
Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:
‘If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.’
‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied:
‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.’
‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’ ‘Go and call your husband’ said Jesus to her ‘and come back here.’ The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:
‘Believe me, woman,
the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know:
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’
The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’
  At this point his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking to her?’ The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’ This brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.
  Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat; but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples asked one another, ‘Has someone been bringing him food?’ But Jesus said:
‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me,
and to complete his work.
Have you not got a saying:
Four months and then the harvest?
Well, I tell you:
Look around you, look at the fields;
already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life,
and thus sower and reaper rejoice together.
For here the proverb holds good:
one sows, another reaps;
I sent you to reap a harvest you had not worked for.
Others worked for it;
and you have come into the rewards of their trouble.’
Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

5 posted on 03/15/2012 9:20:23 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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