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13 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 12.28-34

To be told that what you have said or done is ‘not bad’ or ‘not far wrong’ is just typical – and not altogether reassuring! We often commend or praise someone by using a negative to express a positive.  Like a Yorkshire gentleman commenting on my sermon I had preached, “As well as could be expected”, and about my time in Yorkshire; “You haven’t done anything wrong yet”. It works the other way round too – eg ‘That wasn’t the best sermon I have ever heard’, or ‘They weren’t over-generous with the sauce…’ or ‘he must surely have been a good person but no one will miss him’.  

So when, after one of the Scribes had agreed with Jesus what the first and second most important commandments were,  Jesus tells him that he is ‘not far from the Kingdom of God’. We are not told what became of this Scribe!  And Mark notes that ‘after that no one dared ask him any question’ – except when Jesus is in chains being tried, and also on the throne of his triumph, the Cross!

Friends, knowing which are the two most important commandments is one thing, but living up to them is another. It is all very well to have the theory, but so far as loving God and neighbour is concerned, it is the practice that counts.

Every day presents with it new challenges which bring these two most important commandments into sharp focus. You know some say  the word love is spelled - T I M E.  How much time do we give to God each day? How much time do we give to others, listening to them, offering our support, our understanding? How far do we go out of our own way to show love, to put that word into action?

Enough said. Time to get on and do it.

Today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 12.28-34

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.