Friday, March 24, 2017



Today's gospel reading is particularly crucial for all Christians because, while the values put forth in the Bible are numerous, Jesus clearly and unequivocably sets before us the pivotal ideas around which our lives should revolve.

Gospel reading for today:
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.

Several people have expressed to me, and I have seen it written many times on social media and elsewhere, that the poor should be helped, but in a limited way. Many conditions are placed upon even the smallest amount offered to the poor, and some people express resentment when even a tiny amount of money is offered to the indigent from public monies.

One woman echoed the general feeling among the comfortable and well fed when she said, "Oh, I believe we should help the poor, but they don't deserve to benefit to the same degree that I do." Many people feel this way, but it isn't Christian.

Jesus asks us to love one another as much as we love ourselves. It's very clear in this passage, and there is no skirting around it.

Loving everyone as much as we love ourselves is a challenge to the natural selfishness that we all experience, at least part of the time. It forces us to loosen our attachment to false ideas of status. It pries open the hand that is grasping personal resources, and it presents an egalitarian worldview.

We cannot look down upon someone that we love as much as we love ourselves. We cannot wish them ill or wish that they remained in poverty. We cannot act in any manner that would take the food from their mouths or injure them in any way. In fact, it obviously advocates for the positive good of every person.

In another part of the Bible, we are taught that loving someone does not mean wishing them well and then moving along. It isn't enough to say, "oh, I love you so much, I wish you had the same good food that I eat, the same comfortable housing that I possess, and the same clothing that I wear." It isn't solely an intellectual orientation.

Today's Gospel reading is a really good one for Lent, when almsgiving is emphasized, but it certainly isn't limited to that aspect. It has global implications that require a revolution in our thinking and behavior. It requires a humble attitude toward our fellow man. This humble attitude is a riot against arrogance. It isn't an easy thing. 

For myself, I plan on meditating on its significance and how I might apply it in a better way. I highly recommend it.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose Parnell