SCRIPTURE: Mark 12:28 (TM) – larger reading Mark 12:28-34
One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: "Which is most important of all the commandments?"
When Irving S. Olds was chairman of the U.S. Steel Corporation, he arrived for a stockholders' meeting and was confronted by a woman who asked, "Exactly who are you and what do you do?" Without batting an eye, Olds replied, "I am your chairman. Of course, you know the duties of a chairman--that's someone who is roughly the equivalent of parsley on a platter of fish."
When this section from Mark’s gospel is dealt with we normally concentrate on the love stuff – love God and love your neighbor. What caused me to pause this time around wasn’t the love stuff or the emphasis on “commandments”, but those two simple words – “most important”.
What is “most important” in our life? What drives our agendas? What demands attention moment by moment? What sets our priorities? What are the things that we are willing to die for? “Most important” questions have the tendency for us to dig deeper and struggle longer… or at least they should.
Our answer are normally the expected religious responses until… There are things that can happen to us that will cause us to stop what we are doing and reevaluate the “most important” things in our life. Here we are trucking down the road thinking that we know exactly what God wants us to do and BAM! brick wall… the answer is NO!... the sand shifts beneath our feet… our world starts coming a part at the seams…
What is going on? We know that God has called us to this particular junction in our life. We feel the call. We sense the assurance. And then that old “brick wall” and it hurts hitting it, especially when we didn’t see it and didn’t slow down before hitting at full speed.
It is at this point we begin to truly hear God asking … What is most important? We thought we had the answers, but now we are only confused. Our spirit becomes disturbed. How could the answer be “NO” when the call was so clear? Only as we sift through the “most important” issues in our relationship with God that we can begin to understand more completely the love issues in our relationship with God and others.
And by the way the God/others is not a “chicken/egg” problem – the more we love God the more we will love others and the more we love others the more we will love God. This love stuff happens at the same time. A good place to start with the “most important” issue is listing out the individual(s) and groups of people that we really have problems with. Until we clear those hurtles we are just kidding ourselves about the religious love stuff.
These moments are clarification moments. These moments are shaping moments. And, we actually begin to hear God more clearly. In the realm of communication it is called “feedback”. Okay, this is what I am hearing. Is that correct? This allows the other person to clarify and/or sharpen the message so that we can hear it better.
So as we struggle with the “most important” issues of our God-relationship we are brought to a better understanding about what it means to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength as well as loving others as we love ourselves.
And, by the way, the place to start is to clarify the relationship we have with ourselves. Therein lies the resurrection for us. Until we become healthy and accept responsibility for ourselves nothing else matters, no matter how hard we work at clarifying the most important issues in our life.
God of grace and God of mercy help us grow, help us clarify, help us work on our priorities and may we start with ourselves until we sing the resurrection song!