The Lord our God is the only Lord and we must love him
M Mons. Vincenzo Paglia

Gospel (Mk 12,28b-34) - At that time, one of the scribes approached Jesus and asked him: "Which is the first of all the commandments?". Jesus replied: «The first is: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord; you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and 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: «You have said well, Master, and according to truth, that He is unique and there is no other except Him; loving him with all your heart, with all your intelligence and with all your strength and loving your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices." Seeing that he had responded wisely, Jesus said to him: "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one had the courage to question him anymore.

The commentary on the Gospel by Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia

This passage from the Gospel of Mark takes place within the ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem. Among the hostility of the leaders of the people which becomes more and more threatening, there is the sincere request of a scribe who turns to Jesus and asks him: "Which is the first of all the commandments?". The scribes were generally well versed in the Law. And this time the request is not malicious, this scribe who appears alone before Jesus really wants to learn a teaching that he considered important for his life. He was a wise scribe. He was aware, in fact, that he did not have the truth in his pocket, that he too needed to learn from a master who was wiser than him. In fact, we all need to ask first of all the Spirit who has been given to us for the meaning of the Scriptures for our life and that of the world. And in any case to listen to the Word of God within the Church, within the community in which we live. No one is his own master. Unfortunately, we easily forget to open the Scriptures and listen to them with a spirit of prayer, sure of ourselves and knowing well what to do and how to live. It is the sin of pride and self-sufficiency that leads us to do without even God and his word. Today this scribe teaches us how to stand before Jesus. And together with him ask him: "Master, what is the heart of the Gospel?". Jesus responds in an articulate manner as if to make us understand that without Him, without His Holy Spirit, it is difficult to understand the Scriptures. He replies that the "first commandment" is twofold: to love God and others. They are two inseparable loves; indeed, it is only one. It is not possible to divide God and others. The apostle John also reminds us of this: "For anyone who does not love his brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he does not see" (1 John 4:20). Jesus himself shows us: he loved the Father above all things, more than his own life and, equally, he loved men above all things, more than his own life. Of course, to understand the uniqueness of the love of God and neighbor, there is a prior invitation that must be accepted: "The first is: Listen, Israel". It is the invitation that is continually proposed to us in this season of Lent: the need to listen to God who speaks to us. Whoever does not listen to him will only hear the noise of himself and will not be able to fully live the commandment of love. Only those who listen to the Gospel, as Mary did, will be able to fully experience the strength of faith. That scribe, satisfied with Jesus' answer, was told that he was not far from the kingdom of God. We learn from him at least his willingness to ask and his promptness in answering.