A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to Mark
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: 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. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Transcription of Homily
In today’s Gospel, this young man approaches Our Lord and asks Him, “Which of the 10 Commandments is the greatest?” And then, Our Lord surprises him with his answer. And He… what He does is He takes all of the Commandments and reduces them down to two, and He takes basically the first three Commandments of the 10 and says, “That’s loving God with all your heart, your soul, and your strength, your mind, and that all of the other seven Commandments regard loving others as ourselves.” In other words, following Christ is not complicated. Okay? We’re pretty complicated about following Him and what He wants from us is not complicated.
And you are about to finish your school year. And I imagine you’re pretty excited about summer. And you should be. You’re about to take a break from school, but nobody takes a break from our Lord, right? We don’t take vacation from God. This is just a different way. Summer presents us with a different way of showing our friendship with Him. When He says, “Loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, all your strength,” He’s talking about our entire selves. And sometimes we can think that we’re set up for failure because things are difficult.
You know, each one of us has what’s called a conscience. A conscience is where we know in our heart, in our mind, what’s good and what’s bad. We all know that. And we know, when we’re faced with a decision, this is a good thing to do, or it’s a bad thing to do. This isn’t just something that we came up with, right? This is the Law; the Commandments that our Lord wrote on our hearts. He told us. We didn’t need the Scripture to know that we’re not supposed to steal, we’re not supposed to lie, we’re not supposed to kill. We all know that, but we need the scripture to remind us of things that we already know because we get distracted pretty easily. I know I do. And when I come back to read the Scripture, it’s as if I’m seeing it for the first time. Sometimes it’s really beautiful. And, this is what our Lord wants from us. Right? That He wants to be your first love. Your first love. And He gave you a heart that is made for Him and He wants to fill it. That’s what He means by loving Him with all your heart. He wants to fill your heart. And we can try and fill our heart with other things, and it doesn’t leave us happy for long.
I remember when I was a kid, sixth grade or so, I was starting to learn to play an instrument and I was hyper-focused on that instrument. It’s a bagpipes. It’s a Scottish instrument. And I was hyper-focused on that, and I would listen to the great players and I say, “I want to learn that piece.” And I would learn the tune and I would get it down really well. And fine, okay, now what? Now I want to learn another one. Now I want to learn another one. And what I thought was going to bring me happiness was kind of nice for a while. It wasn’t a bad thing. But it didn’t satisfy me. And as a little boy, I realized that some things bring satisfaction in the moment, and other things, like when I was an altar boy in my parish, that brought me a joy and a peace that didn’t go away like the joy of learning a new song. And so, what do we learn from this?
That God gave us a heart for Him. And He wants to be the one who fills it. He wants to be your best friend. And if you respond to Him, if you say, “Yes, Lord, I want to be your best friend too. And I’m going to give you all of my heart. I’m gonna give you my mind, my thoughts, my desires, even… even my temptations when my conscience says, “Don’t do that,” and I want to do something that I know is wrong. I can give that to him, too. Say, “Lord, I love You more than this temptation. And to show You that my love for You is real, I’m going to do what I know is right.” When we do that, we don’t just not commit a sin, what happens is we grow in our friendship with Christ. We grow in that friendship.
And so, those things don’t leave us the same. Those decisions are really important because that’s where friendship is forged. That’s where friendship is deepened and made really strong. So even the challenges that you face, difficulties, temptations, those are opportunities to show Christ that He is number one for you. That He is your all. That you love Him with all your heart, your mind, and your strength. And if you do that, you will never regret it because that is a joy and a peace that never leaves us, not in this life and not in the next.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen