Scripture: Lectionary 242: Hosea 14:2-10. Psalm 81:6-8.8-9.10-11.14.17.
Mark 12: 28-34
God and Jesus are strong in their desire to love us even when we fail.
Their love is everlasting and unconditional. Yet, it is strong. God says,
“I am a jealous God.” By this God means no other gods, persons, or things
should interfere with the love God has for us; we should realize that God’s
words are not to be toyed with but accepted as pure gift. They are words
Hosea is a book about God’s love being mirrored in the love Hosea has for
his promiscuous wife. He keeps trying to win her back–even by luring her
into the desert so they could have time to talk about their strained
relationship. God uses the example and the words of this prophet to show
us how God’s love is faithful and enduring just like that of the prophet,
but even supremely better for it is perfect agape love.
Jesus affirms the response and insight of the good scribe who knows the
central message of the Torah–love of God and fidelity to the covenant with
God. He loves God with his whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Jesus
is in admiration and tells him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Our jealousy is different from what God means when we hear the statement “I
am a jealous God.” We battle jealousy and envy in our everyday
relationships with family, friends, even community. The lessons of the
Scripture for today help us to be on our guard against such tendencies.
The Psalm gives us the following words of God, “I am the Lord, your
God…if only my people would hear my ways…I would feed them with the
best of wheat and with honey from the rock I would fill them.” We are able
to practice such love by our devout and attentive receiving of the Lord in
Communion and by keeping in touch with God during the day.
Returning to our passage from Mark we are aware that not many people are
praised by Jesus in this Gospel. Even his disciples are not; in fact, they
are often confronted with strong words of Jesus’ “tough love” in the call
and cost of their discipleship. His is a road that leads them to the
Cross. Only a few women, and two scribes are praised as being close to the
kingdom of God by Jesus. It would be great for us to hear those words he
gives these men who are keeping the commandments with love, “You are not
far from the kingdom of God.”
We see that the love of God and neighbor are one. The scribe recognized
this and thus was praised. The other Gospel example is the young man whom
Jesus loved because he was so sincere. He could not however fall the call
of discipleship because of his riches. Nevertheless, Jesus looked upon him
and loved him. May we not be far from the kingdom of God today by loving
our neighbor and praying for our opponents. Amen.