Daily Reflection
June 3rd, 2004
Howie Kalb, S.J.
Jesuit Community
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Have you ever reflected upon the way sports announcers throw around the superlatives?  They talk about this quarterback as the greatest in the league.  Two weeks later some other quarterback is the greatest.  And by the end of the season, the sportscaster has determined at least twelve or fifteen quarterbacks are the greatest.  Now that’s impossible. 

It’s seems from the Gospel the scribe is caught up in a similar dispute concerning the first or greatest commandment.  So he consults Jesus for his opinion.  For Jesus, the answer is simple.  It’s right there in the Bible.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy (6:4)  And for good measure he adds the second, which is like to it; “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus (19:18)

It’s what Jesus has been teaching all along.  And it’s why so many of his adversaries have been attacking him.  They believed and taught that keeping the infinite details of the Judaic Law was most important.

Paul in his Letter to Timothy, charges his listeners before God “to stop disputing about words.  This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.”  It seems so often “word games” in religion can do irreparable harm.  Explaining spiritual and divine realities in human terms will always be inadequate and can often be done mainly through imperfect analogies.  Being inadequate and imperfect, it frequently will result in disputes over words.

That explains why Jesus commends the scribe telling him: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  He stayed with the Scriptures.  It’s a reminder not to get caught up in our speculative answers.  Nor should we get overly attached to our own apodictic words.  Rather we are challenged to keep refining our expressions through the study of the Scriptures and prayer.  Little by little, it’s the way we get to know the Lord more intimately, love him more ardently and follow him more closely. 

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