Faith Matters

Sunday’s Gospel: Year of the word. The God who speaks

Mark 12:28-34

The Greatest Commandment

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.


The scribe asks, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?” Unlike most stories where a religious official asks Jesus a question, there is no indication that this scribe is trying to trap Jesus. He seems to be asking an honest question.

The scribe is asking, not which commandment is first of many, but rather which commandment defines the core of Torah law. Let’s not forget, that it was Moses who received the law from God.

Jesus gives two of the most important commandments new meaning. He reinforces the fact that you should recognize God as the one true God and to love your neighbour as you love yourself. Unlike most of the religious authorities who argued with Jesus all throughout the Gospels, this time, the scribe agrees with Jesus.

Jesus states that by keeping these commandments, the Kingdom of God is near for those who believe.

Finally, although we live in a secular society where not all people believe in God, loving our neighbour is something that we all can do.