Friday of the 3rd Week of Lent

Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment


“As long as we live, we keep on learning,” the Chinese proverb says. The scribe who asked Jesus about the first of all commandments learned something new when Jesus summed up the law and the prophets in the one commandment of love: love of God and love of one’s neighbor. The scribe must have separated the two but Jesus put them together as one. Love unites a person to God and neighbor. When someone truly and sincerely loves God, this love overflows into one’s neighbor. Our Christian faith is not only vertical, i.e., the person to God but also horizontal, i.e., person to person. Hence the dimension of the cross in our life of love becomes inevitable. Jesus demonstrated this very eloquently in His own death on the cross: love reaching to the heavens and extending itself to us. When one knows this and does it, one is in the Kingdom of God as Christ is. (Fr. Bernard Collera, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


A man bragged that he was almost perfect and impeccable in keeping the 10 Commandments. He never stole, committed adultery, he never missed Sunday Mass, never disrepected his parents, etc. But then his neighbor was dying of hunger.

When the Lord took the great two commandments and put them together in the gospel reading today, it was inclusive. He started with the first great commandment, the Shema, the creed of Judaism. And then Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:18: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” as the second great commandment. These two commandments include not only love of God but also love of everybody and love of self. In these two commandments there is no room for indifference, especially to those who are in need. These commandments also make us grow and be dynamic in our spiritual life. Our whole energy and will is geared to love God with all our being and love others as we love ourselves. For the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, a saint is someone who wills one thing. For the late Mother Theresa it was very clear that she willed only to love God and the poor. One time somebody confessed to me that she missed Mass because she could not leave her daughter who was badly ill. I told her she could have committed a graver sin if she left her daughter and went to Mass. It’s very clear in verse 32: “…to love your neighbor as you love yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Also in Hosea 6:1-6: “…what I want is love not sacrifices.” Human needs take precedence over any sacrifice, ritual and prayer time. (Fr. Titus Mananzan, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


March 4, 2016 Friday

Setting direction. Checking goal. These are some of the important points our gospel reading is sharing to us in this season of Lent. Usually, we pray and go to Church because of some personal intentions. This is the normal way. We pray for financial sustenance, success in studies, promotion in work, physical and emotional healing, and enlightenment when in mental and emotional confusion, among many others. These become the highlight of our belief, the center of our religious practice. And these define the way we approach God.

However, our gospel today is reminding us that in as much as the Kingdom of God can be experienced here on earth by the answers of God to our prayers, it is also reminding us that the Kingdom of God is more than this. The Kingdom of God also means being with Him in eternity. How? By loving our neighbors because our love for them is our concrete expression of our love for God who offers us His Kingdom.

I am not saying that praying for personal intentions is bad. It can only be bad when all prayers are directed to the self because that act becomes selfish. Personal prayers directed solely to the self make us forget our neighbors about whom our gospel is reminding us today. Neighbors are part of our existence. They are part of who we are as followers of Christ. They are part of our expression of our love to God.

Let us then be more conscious the next time we pray to include the needs of our neighbors. They are our family, friends, and officemates. They are also our acquaintances no matter who they are and what religion they profess. They are the sick people we meet in the hospitals when we have our executive check-up. They are the homeless we see everyday on our way to work. They are the street children who knock at the glass windows of the restaurants and fast-food chains where we usually eat. They are our church officials and government leaders who are plagued with scandals. Let us also pray for them. Or better still, let us put all of these prayers for these people into action. (Fr. Ross Heruela, SVD DWIMS, Tagaytay City Bible Diary 2016)


March 16, 2012

St. Abraham Kidunaja
Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Hos 14:2-10
Ps 81
Mk 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment

28One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well [Jesus] had answered [the Sadducees], asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” 29Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! 30You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ 33And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


The first of all the commandments. Jesus summarizes all the commandments in one word: love—love of God and love of neighbor as oneself. The two commandments are interrelated. The love of God is made known and visible in our love of neighbor. The proof of our love for God is our love of neighbor.

If we truly love God, we can accept our neighbor who has betrayed us and spread malicious lies against us, trust anyone who has failed us and fallen short of our expectations, and be sensitive to the urgent needs of our fellow men and women. We will forgive our neighbors who have wronged us. How can we say we love God whom we cannot see if we cannot love our neighbors whom we can see? (cf 1 Jn 4:20).

To love our neighbors is to willingly be of service, to understand them, and to forgive them. We love our neighbors the way God loves them. We love them the way God loves us.

How much do I love God?

How about my family and neighbors?


My Reflection for Friday March 28, Third Week of Lent, Mark 12:28-34

Reflection: Why are there failures in many marriages? The answer is a giveaway.  There are failures in many marriages for the simple reason that we don’t love God as much as God wants us to love Him.  Otherwise if we truly love God we would not dare hurt the feeling of someone we love.

Why are there successful marriages that are able to weather the many storms of married life? The answer is also a giveaway. There are successful marriages for the reason that both spouses love God as what God wants them to love Him.

In our gospel, when Jesus was asked by a scribe as to which among the commandments is the first. He told him: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus knew that if we love God first everything else would follow including our love for our neighbor/fellowmen.

If we love God we wouldn’t have the heart to hurt the feelings of our spouse. We wouldn’t want to see them in despair or lonely. The secret therefore for a successful marriage is for couples to love God first.

But in our modern times now we have many first loves before God. For example, the love of oneself or in other words our self centeredness. Wherein we want to pursue what we want even if it leads us to sin we do this because we love to do this!  If our principle is to love ourselves first before we love  God then marriage will surely break apart.

It’s not yet late to love God first and to let God take the center stage in our married life. (Marino J. Dasmarinas)




“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” – Mark 12:30

“How demanding!” That’s what I would say if someone would ask of me what the verse states above. But it’s another point altogether when it comes from the Lord.

When I had my personal conversion more than 20 years ago, loving the Lord became part of the fuel in my personal relationship with Him. For a single person, which I was for a long time, that included choosing the TV shows that I watch; the books that I read—it took me a long time to win over my natural affinity to romantic novels, some of which had explicit scenes; the company that I keep (including the men that I would date);  and the emotions that I would allow to hold sway in my heart.

But I testify that seeking to love the Lord with my all has been worth it, though I have done it imperfectly. And just when I was most at peace with my single state, the Lord allowed me to meet a good man. We’re married now, and the seeking and the searching after the Lord continues. May it always be this way whatever state of life I’m in. Joy Sosoban-Roa (

Reflection: “God is waiting eagerly to respond with new strength to each little act of self-control, small discipline of prayer, feeble searching after Him. And His children shall be filled if they will only hunger and thirst after what He offers.” (Richard Holloway)

You are the Thirst that quenches all other thirsts, oh Lord. I will seek You forever!

St. Hesychius of Jerusalem, pray for us.


1ST READING: God is a forgiving God. However, for forgiveness to have its full effect, the one who has sinned must have the humility to admit his fault and repent of his sins. Humility seems to be naturally abhorrent to the human condition. I believe that this is purely a result of sin. That is, it is in sinning that we develop a perverse sort of pride that blinds us to the nature of sin and our need for repentance. (Hosea 14:2-10)

GOSPEL: This summary of the Law in two commands — to love God and love our neighbor — demonstrates the relational character of the human person. That is, it is relationships that matter most to us. We are nothing if we stand alone outside any relationship as we would then be unable to either receive or offer love. It is love that gives meaning to our lives and so we must seek to protect our relationships and allow love to develop within us. (Mark 12:28-34)

think: We are nothing if we stand alone outside any relationship as we would then be unable to either receive or offer love.



If you are familiar with San Carlos Seminary where I am assigned, you know how noisy it can be. It is right along EDSA, a stone’s throw away from the business center district of Makati. It is right beside Rockwell Center and, right now, new skyscrapers are being built, making construction music a regular evening lullaby. One time I booked myself for some days in a retreat house far from the maddening noise of the city.

One night I was distracted at prayer and so I went outside the chapel and walked through the halls of the retreat house. I then chanced  upon a poster that read: “Madness, to look at the war without, when the real battle is within.” Then it hit me. I travelled far looking for silence without but I was still noisy within.

That is true. Sometimes we think the war for silence is waged outside when the battle for real silence is actually won within.

I have facilitated countless retreats. The number one problem that retreatants usually complain about is not the accommodation, the food or the ambiance of the retreat house. It is about their inability to be still even as they are hauled away to a secluded retreat facility.   It’s all about the heart. It’s all about whether I have opened my heart to the actions of God’s grace or my heart has hardened to the point of being impenetrable.

In the Gospel, Jesus commends the effort of one of the scribes by declaring, “You are not far from the reign of God.” What does it mean to be near or far from the Kingdom? Jesus was not talking mathematical nearness or “farness.” Yes, retreating to a quiet, distant place is a great aid for a spiritual experience, but God’s reign is not about distance and location.

Even on the heart of the city, God’s reign can be found. I really must not look far and without. I must first look near and within. Fr. Joel Jason

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you compartmentalize God’s presence in your life? Do you tend to limit God’s presence in religious times and places, forgetting that God is with you 24/7?

Still my troubled heart, Lord. Help me to silence the noise within me by focusing on You.


Friday of the 3rd Week of Lent (A): Mark 12:28-34. What is the relationship between love of God and love of neighbor? The most important of all our obligations is to love God, who is the reason and the direction of our being. We have to show our love for God by giving Him the best of our time daily, by praising and honoring Him for all His works, by taking care and developing His creation, by listening and obeying His Word, and by prioritizing His will above all else. Intrinsically connected to our love of God is the obligation to love our neighbor, who bears His image and likeness. God cannot be loved apart from the neighbor because He is present in every person, especially in the poor and the needy. He was clear about it: “Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.” (Abet Uy)


March 04, 2016

REFLECTION: In today’s gospel reading we see a teacher of the law (or a scribe as these were called) ask Jesus to point out to him what is the first (that is, the most important) of all commandments. But as a professional authority on the law, was he not supposed to know that? What was the problem?

Surprisingly, at the time of Jesus there was no consensus on the matter. Questions concerning the “lighter” and the “heavier” of the 613 commandments of the law (248 precepts and 365 prohibitions) were frequently discussed among the rabbis, and various answers were given. The need for synthesis and for some guidelines had long been felt: David reduces the commandments to 11 main ones (Ps 15:2-5), Isaiah to 6 (Is 33:15), Micah to 3 (Mi 6:8), etc.

In his reply Jesus quotes Dt 6:4-5, which forms the beginning of the prayer which every pious Jew must recite every morning and evening. The second greatest commandment is a quote from Lv 19:18.

What is the most important thing in life? According to Jesus, it is to love. Now is love my real priority in life? How do I love my neighbor as myself? By applying the Golden Rule (Mt 7:12) and treating him or her as I myself would want to be treated.


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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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