First Reading
Deuteronomy 6:2-6

Moses spoke to the people, saying: “Fear the Lord your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you, and thus have long life. Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them, that you may grow and prosper the more, in keeping with the promise of the Lord, the God of your fathers, to give you a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.”

Second Reading
Hebrews 7:23-28

Brothers and sisters: The levitical priests were many because they were prevented by death from remaining in office, but Jesus, because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away. Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them. It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints men subject to weakness to be high priests, but the word of the oath, which was taken after the law, appoints a son, who has been made perfect forever.

Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Mark 12:28b-34

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 yourself’ is 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.

Love God and love your neighbor. This short and clear commandment expressed the whole of the law of God. Today we don’t like to think of God’s word as a law, so we can say simply that this short statement sums up the whole of our Christian life. It is so very simply and so very difficult.

Loving God has always been a bit difficult because God is not present the way that another person is present. This difference also has made loving God easier because we are never quite sure what it means to love God. We do know that we must prefer God and His word, His Scriptures to all other realities.

The invitation to love God and to love our neighbor becomes very concrete in the love of neighbor. It is not just any neighbor that we must love, but the neighbor who is right in front of us. The neighbor is not the person who lives next door but any human being who happens into our life. This neighbor is especially the person that we don’t want to help, the person who may have injured us, the person who seems unworthy of our help, the person who will take more of our time than we want to give.

Always in the Gospel we find this teaching of the Lord Jesus: love those who don’t love you; love those who are your enemies; love those who slap you and injure you.

As we consider this invitation to love, we can understand more completely why our ancestors in the faith were not faithful to the Lord, as hear in the first reading today. Moses was clear in his teaching. Moses taught the people what he knew that God wanted taught. The Scriptures continue to teach us what God wants of us. It is much easier to change the meaning of the Scriptures than it is to change our hearts. So in the history of our faith, both in the Old and the New Testaments, we find the tendency to turn away from God, the tendency to change what God wants into what we want.

Marriage is one of the easiest examples to look at in terms of the change of teaching. It is an easy example because it is Jesus Himself who tells us that Moses changed the teaching because of the hardness of heart of the believers. Jesus continually calls us to repent and to return to the clear teachings given in Scripture and the clear teachings that He gives to us.

We can allow our hearts to be changed today or we can continue as we are, with hearts hardened by doing things our own way. Jesus calls to us: Love God and love your neighbor. Listen to Him.