Moved to A Place of Silence by Heather Monkmeyer
In the chapter leading up to this passage, Jesus is in the temple and different groups of religious scholars are taking turns trying to entrap him in arguments that range from paying taxes to resurrection. Here, a scribe who seems to respect Jesus, asks him a legitimate question, not about a peripheral issue, but about core things. What is the most important commandment of all the commandments? And Jesus tells him: Love God with everything in you and love the people in front of you.
I wonder if that is the answer the religious leader was expecting out of Jesus. He had no debate to offer back, just agreement. And Jesus affirms his wisdom by saying, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Love God, Love people.
What strikes me as I sit with this passage is the last line. “After that no one dared to ask him any question.” and I see the whole chaotic, mean spirited scene drop down into silence, that deep breath of the Spirit. No words.
These days, the cacophony of voices from work and family, left and right, the arguing, the speeches, the trials, the debate can be excruciating, jangly, and full of confusion. But this story of Jesus gives us a lens through which to view our own lives and a way to quiet the clamor and remind us what matters.
We can ask ourselves these questions: In this moment, do my actions and intentions align with my love for God? Am I demonstrating love for my neighbor? In other words, are my actions and intentions life-giving?
Regardless of whether the temple went silent or the critics just left the scene, the quiet is an invitation to us all. What if we stop with all the questions, all the internal debate, the fighting, the worrying, and sit in the compassionate silence of God for even 5 minutes each day between now and Easter? And then remember that the final answer is Love God, Love People.
God, may my heart be quieted by your love for me and all of humanity and may my heart be enlivened by that same love to be who you have created me to be in the world. Amen.
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 neighbor 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 neighbor 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.