2 Timothy 2:8-15; Psalm 25; Mark 12:28-34
In the Gospel today, one of the scribes came near to Jesus and asked what commandment is the first of all. This question could be interpreted as what is the basis of all commands. Jesus replies, the first is “Hear O Israel: the Lord one 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 neighbor as yourself.” By saying this, Jesus lays down the foundation of all laws: love the ONE God with all your being, no exception! And love your neighbor as yourself.
With people pushing God away from society and from their lives, people think loving neighbor is enough. But Jesus says this is the second base, which means it comes next after loving God. I cannot love my neighbor if I do not love God. Loving God makes it possible to love our neighbor. How did Jesus describe God? He said One God and the Lord is one. There are not many gods. Only one, so him, we love with our heart, soul, our mind, our bodies. Our entire being should be moving towards God. We cannot wish to serve God in our minds only. Our bodies need to serve him too. We cannot separate our bodies from worshiping God because our body make visible our love for God. This is why we take care of our bodies and do not just do with it as we wish. I cannot say I love God, but go around and use my body to commit sin because we are our Body AND Soul!
St Paul was very clear in the First Reading when he said Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David. St Paul speaks of Jesus becoming flesh, having David as an ancestor. This is why we believe Jesus is true God and true Man. If our only goal in life is to address the physical needs of our neighbors only, we miss the point. St Paul speaks of enduring everything for the sake of the elect so they may obtain the salvation that is to Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. While there were many who lived in poverty during the time of Paul, he was more concerned about their salvation than their physical needs.
This does not mean we can neglect the physical needs of people, BUT we should also be concerned of their eternal salvation. If all we do is to serve the poor without being concerned about their eternal salvation, then we are NOT a Christian (paraphrasing Pope Francis). As a Christian, we are concerned about the salvation of the souls of our neighbors because they are Body AND Soul. We minister to their bodies AND also to their souls. This is why I cringe when I hear people say love is all that matters and their interpretation of love is to do good works to address the physical needs or to be nice or to not offend people. To love our neighbor is to also look after the eternal salvation of their soul aside from their material needs. The Psalm today asks God to make me know your ways, teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. While Jesus taught us to ask God for our daily bread, for our material needs, we also need to ask God to show us his ways, to lead us in HIS truth, because we need to look after our physical AND spiritual needs. The psalm continues: Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. Loving our neighbor is not just serving the poor in their material needs. It is also instructing the sinners (which is everyone, including this writer) on the Truth of the Lord. We need to look after the spiritual needs of our neighbors as well as their physical needs.
O Lord, let me love you with my body and soul. I offer to you my whole self. Sanctify me body and soul. Let me body give glory to you. Help me to keep it holy. Guard my heart, my soul, my mind so I will desire only to love you. Teach me your truth Lord, so I may follow your path. Your word is not chained. Immerse me in your Word and sanctify me, body and soul.