Today's Gospel lectionary reading is from 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 neighbour 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 neighbour 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.One of my favorite daily devotional resources is Pray As You Go. It is an audio devotional that includes the lectionary reading for the day, plus music, and suggestions for prayer. It is put together by the Irish Jesuits.
Another one of my favorite resources is also produced by the Irish Jesuits. It is called Sacred Space. It is a written daily devotion including the lectionary reading, inspirational thoughts on the reading, and suggestions for prayer.
Lately, I have been using Pray As You Go, every day, Monday through Friday. But today I decided to go back to Sacred Space, just for the day, and I am so glad I did. Sacred Space had just the words I needed to hear when I got to the lectionary reading (copied above) and then clicked on "Need Inspiration?" Here were the thoughts on today's Scripture from Sacred Space....
- I too often ask myself what is the first commandment of all, which is the most important of my many obligations. Today, like the scribe, I ask Jesus to enlighten me to find the answer to this vital question. I let myself be impressed by the fact that Jesus has a very clear answer: love. It is the most important thing I can ever do, it includes all my duties, all the commandments.
- Jesus tells me to love others as I love myself. Do I feel called to love myself, as I am? Or do I feel guilty when I try to do so, feeling I am being selfish? Jesus seems to imply the contrary: I will not be able to love others unless I love myself.
The second point was the one I especially needed to hear. I often have difficulty loving myself as I am. And when I do something just for myself, I so often feel selfish and then I feel guilty. But the truth is: if I don't take care of myself, then how will I ever be able to take care of others as a pastor, as a husband, as a father, as a friend?
In order to do any of this, in order to keep God's commandments, in order to love God, love my neighbor, love myself, I must first receive God's love through Jesus Christ.
So my prayer today for myself is....
Father, help me, by the power of your Spirit, to receive your love, so that I may love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and so that I may love myself and my neighbor. In Jesus' name. Amen.Would you like to make this your prayer too?