We still find it a pleasing experience for someone to say thanks to us. Pope Francis reminded the world in his exhortation on ‘Love and the Family’ that the three most important words are still “please, thanks and sorry”.
In Mark’s Gospel, the episode we read today is the last happening on the road. We find Jesus in the Temple next week. He has been harassed, insulted, scorned and plotted against. After all the teaching and the good works he performed, even his own chosen followers had let him down. I wonder how he felt when they started to argue about first place at table, let alone in the Kingdom!
This episode is different. The scribe seems genuine. His question is akin to what many good and thoughtful people were asking. He seemed to fully appreciate his Jewish tradition…a tradition that taught that the Torah listed 613 commandments; 248 written in a positive form, 365 in the negative. So, it is a good question.
Jesus responds by adding his own twist, quoting his own Jewish tradition (and we would say a revealed tradition); “There is no commandment greater than these.”
I ponder, what did Jesus feel when he heard the reply of the Scribe? We know what Jesus said; “You are not far from the Kingdom of God”. Yes, but how did he feel? After all the knock backs, the lack of sincere questioning, the refusal to listen; surely there was a movement of the Spirit and a sense that it has been worthwhile. Somebody got it!
Did the scribe get it because he was respectful or because he had begun to listen?
Jesus began his reply by quoting the age-old teaching which included “Listen Israel: The Lord our God is the one Lord.” We can live the great commandment if we can listen a little more intently to what the Spirit is asking of us.
A little prayer:
Teach me to listen Holy Spirit.
For your voice-
In busyness and boredom,
In certainty and doubt,
In noise and in silence.
Teach me Lord to Listen. Amen.