To-day's Gospel reading is from St Mark:
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
"Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus replied, "The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourselfis worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
"You are not far from the Kingdom of God."
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Mark 12: 28-34
And from this morning's Loyola press 'Living Lent Daily':
Over a decade ago when I became Catholic, I felt like God lived at St. Gregory’s Church. I’d walk my dog and look up the street, trying to catch a glimpse of its red bricks, imagining God flickering in the sanctuary candle. Earlier, when I was little, I felt like God lived in the trees. Both times it was a sense that God was not far, just up the block or above our heads. But today Jesus tells a scribe he’s not far from the kingdom because he’s understood the centrality of loving God and loving your neighbor. In other words, the kingdom is present wherever love brings what is inside us into communion with what lies beyond. So if only I could hold these things together—my heart, the trees, the church—I think I would not be far indeed.I too remember the red candle burning at the front of the church every Sunday, and I knew that meant that God was with us. It signified His presence. We who were gathered together at Detroit Greenfield Peace Lutheran Church at the corner of Greenfield Avenue and West Outer Drive were indeed in the presence of almighty God!
Later, and I don't know exactly when, I came to truly associate my quiet time with the Lord and the wildlife He would send near during those times. At the lakehouse there were squirrels and all manner of songbirds, loons, cranes and geese, swans and fish and salamanders and turtles. At our home up north, there were the numerous deer, always not very shy and quite inquisitive. There were the wild turkey calling and showing off their colors. There were eagles there, and hawks - both of which would soar on the air currents. There were little red foxes and precious wood ducks that we rarely saw. (The cats were ours and didn't really count, but they were cute.)
My summers spent in the potato fields brought other delights: grouse and pheasants, more foxes and deer, songbirds enjoying a drink from the growers' irrigating sprays.
At our home in Whitmore, we have chickadee and sparrows, robins and red-bellied woodpeckers, house finches and cardinals, nuthatches and downys and red-headed woodpeckers and hummers. The hawks still soar, and the killdeer's song is an evening blessing in the summer.
Through all these, God is saying to me, 'I am with you, be at peace.'
He gives me the time to pause, and thank Him for the wonders of His creation.
Through Your Spirit, help me to remember that I am not far from the Kingdom of God.
Help me to remember always to love my neighbor.
Help me to remember always to love with all my understanding, with all my strength.
Grant this Lord, unto us all.
Lord, in Your mercy; hear our prayer.