The Gospel Today
Friday of the Third Week of Lent
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.
Reflection (Sem. Mark Ian Abu):
Our life is always governed by laws and rules. Every society and organizations is designed under certain policies and regulations which members are required to follow. In the family which is considered as the basic unit of the society, there are simple rules to follow especially for the children. Parents set guidelines in order to discipline and guide their children. There are curfews or specific schedule to use gadgets, watch television or participate in usual family activities which each members of the family should adhere to. In the offices and companies, there are regulations that are to be followed by both employees and employers. Even in the church, there are certain provisions and principles to be considered by those involved in the institution. All these rules are set before us in order to have smooth and guided living among peoples. These are also done to assure fair and equal relationship among members. And these are being implemented to develop discipline and responsibility to people not only to themselves but also to others. Yet, it is also undeniable that there are some rules made just to cater to personal desires and longings. In the places and groups where we are involved, there are instances when we see ourselves facing realities of life with problems and difficulties brought about by lack of just and strict implementation of rules. Abuses to regulations happen when there are already members who are not following the directives and looking for reasons I order not to be constraint by the existing laws. Our country, both in the government and in the church, suffers from unjust and insincere adherence to the regulations being implemented. The hardest part of this reality is the fact that the first people who violate the laws are those who are in the position when they must be the first ones to show good example in the faithful following of the laws.
The Gospel for today speaks of the greatest commandment. This can be understood also in the context of basic and highest law. For the people of God (the Israelites), it is very clear that loving the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength is the first and the most important commandment. This is partnered by the second one that is to love others as oneself. Obeying and being faithful to these commandments is the most important thing for a Jew which up to now is practiced and followed. This is manifested on how they really memorize by heart all these commandments and in the way they bring it in their body; they bind it in their wrist and wear on their forehead and they are to teach them to their children. Jesus, in His teachings, gives the same importance to these laws of the Jews. But he posted a great challenge for all the people who desire to be faithful to these laws. Jesus was fully aware, and even did it on His life, of the necessity for these laws to be understood and done. Yet he was not pinned in that reality alone. He showed it in His life and ministry. His understating of the law led Him to express it in His works and actions. And that is the challenge for each one of us. Knowing the reality that in every aspect of our life we are bound to follow rules, we should not stop with mere understanding but must try embracing them. It is part of our responsibility to express it in the way we relate with others. These rules will just remain in letters if we will not do something for these letters to be in fleshed by our actions. Same as true, there will be no merit if we will be just implementing these rules on ourselves and disregard the conditions and rights of other people. There must be a clear action between the rules and regulations we know and how we live them.
As a priest in process, this is a great invitation for me on how I live and be faithful to the rules of the seminary which is a clear manifestation of my being a good follower of the rules and deregulations of Jesus expressed by those implemented by the Church. How I respond and do the guidelines while I am a seminarian will tell how I will be faithful when I become a priest.