Today we have a Gospel from St. Mark, and it presents us with the last open conversation Jesus had with the Scribes and the Pharisees. In fact, it was what this one scribe said that caused Jesus to break off the debates he had had with them.
The Scribes and the Pharisees had been debating over what prescripts of the law were the most important. Some of them held that is was the prescripts in regard to observing the Sabbath while others thought the precepts in regard to eating kosher were more important.
This one Scribe decided he could enlist Jesus on his side of the debate, so he asked him, “Which is the first commandment?”
Jesus put aside the popular legal debate. To the Scribe’s surprise, he said that the greatest of the commandments is the one that tells us to love God. Jesus went on to say there was a second commandment of great importance: that was the one that tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The Scribe was struck by Our Lord’s break-through good sense. He went on to repeat what Jesus had said, but in repeating it, he actually changed it. He joined the commandments to love God and to love our neighbor into one commandment.
The way the Scribe put it, the way we express our love for God is by loving our neighbor. Jesus had been waiting for someone to grasp that truth. Now that someone had caught on, Jesus didn’t bother to take any more questions from the Scribes and Pharisees.