Thursday after Sexagesima
Scripture: St. Mark 12:13-44 (NKJV)
13 Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. 14 When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” 16 So they brought it. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him.
18 Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying: 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise. 22 So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also. 23 Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.” 24 Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 ‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him.
35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ 37 Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?” And the common people heard Him gladly.
38 Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, 39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Many people think that the Christian faith is about as important as a hobby. They act like it is a marginal thing that can serve its purpose and then be forgotten as is convenient. But in reality the Christian life and faith ought to permeate every aspect of our being.
To live according to our faith completely does not mean that we ought to forsake the normal world and seek piety in the isolation of a monastery. We live and serve in a regular, fallen world. The challenge is in being faithful while not letting the fallen world distract us or cause us to compromise. However, because we are all still sinful in this life, we do get distracted and we do compromise. We fail to keep this First Commandment.
Thanks be to God that our righteousness does not depend on us keeping that commandment. It depends on Christ’s atonement for us and the Holy Spirit bringing us to faith in that redemption, and making us able to love the Lord our God to the best of our abilities.
Our hearts are sinful, our souls are tainted, our minds are wicked, and our strength is fleeting; but the Spirit of God is powerful and eternal! We should rejoice in the fact that our eternal life is not based on our keeping the commandments, but instead is based on God keeping us in Jesus Christ, the crucified!
We pray: Lord God, create in us a clean heart, and renew Your right Spirit within us, keeping us steadfast in Christ Jesus. Amen.