We are remembering this month those who have died on All Hallows Eve-the dead, on Bonfire Night- a man who tried to blow up parliament because of the persecution of Catholics at the time and on Remembrance Sunday-those we have lost in two wars that devastated this country and much of the world.
The gospel story in Mark is also about remembering. In this passage we are reminded to:
To love God-and walk with humility on this earth.
Love our neighbor-to respect all life as equal so we care for our neighbor as ourselves (Syrian refugees)
Love yourself- to respect yourself and let no one put you down because of who you are!
We recall earlier clashes with the scribes and the Pharisees about commandments. They are always trying to catch him out-legalists.
Jesus is quoting from the Jewish Shema in Deuteronomy 6v4. He adds Leviticus 19v18 a text about neighbourliness, which was original. This was new rabbinic teaching. Heaven must be shown on earth. The text in Leviticus is about not exploiting people, the weak and the poor (tax credits debate).
This includes leaving food in the fields for the poor
Not stealing, dealing falsely or profaning God
Not oppressing your neighbor, exploiting your employees, discriminating against the disabled
Not being unjust, slandering someone
The scribe however is only partially there, he understands but he is part of an elite a system that did not practice justice. How near is this to our own situation today?
Jesus in answering this man has silenced them and in turn challenged the temple cult and the uncaring capitalists of its day.
The man who asks Jesus the question “What is the greatest commandment?” has been watching Jesus. He is a scribe, one of the ruling religious elite. He is told he is "thoughtful" and has been not far from the kingdom. The story shows that the scribes had forgotten what is important and needed to be reminded of that.
And we must love our neighbour! Loving our neighbour means acting with compassion. Neighbour in Hebrew means fellow citizen or friend. Love even extends to the foreigner and traveler within our gates, our country. (Asylum seekers, migrants) This is no easy task and many people feel anything but love to their neighbours and foreigners. But this is what Jesus calls us to do. Love, pray even for our enemies! It’s hard.
Psychologically it would be difficult for a person to love others if you don't first love yourself! You have to love yourself! Jesus reminds them of that too.
So Jesus reminds his hearers that the heart of God’s Law (the commandments) is to love and be loved.