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The greatest commandment



Mark 12:28-34


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.



The first of all the commandments. On this rare occasion, a scribe asks Jesus sincerely (not to test him) on the first of all the commandments. In reply, Jesus willingly recites the Shema (Hebrew for “Listen!”), a prayer-confession that every Jew should know. It expresses two things: that there is only one Lord and God, and that one should love the Lord God with all one’s being. Jesus completes his response by also declaring which commandment ranks next, that is, to love the neighbor as one loves oneself. The scribe rejoices over Jesus’ answer and repeats it himself. And Jesus praises him for his amazing wisdom and remarks how he is not far from the Kingdom of God.

The passage brings out two things. One is that when one opens oneself to Jesus, a marvelous exchange happens. The other is that when we love God alone and truly and with our whole being, this naturally flows into our love of others. One who truly loves God cannot love only oneself; on the contrary, one is lost in loving others.

Do we love God above all others and with our whole being, and our neighbors as ourselves?


SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail:; Website:

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