By Laura Forbes, Mercy Volunteer Corps Alumna

“One of the scribes 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.'”

—Mark 12:28-31

Art by Sister Renee Yann
Art by Sister Renee Yann

This passage from Mark’s Gospel reminds us of a simple, yet sometimes difficult, truth: we must show love to others with the same dedication we offer to God. There’s not a hierarchy of love in God’s eyes, and, in the Gospel, Jesus praises the scribe who interprets this command correctly. So we love our neighbor, all of our neighbors, and in doing so we show love to God.

In a world that continues to crack under the weight of prejudice and violence, when love and kindness seem to be in short supply and fear of those we consider “other” keeps us from forming meaningful bonds, adopting a posture of love can seem like a radical feat. Yet, it is what is asked of us.

We are called to “return to the Lord,” the prophet Hosea says, but how can we make a return to each other? The season of Lent provides us the opportunity to wrestle with this question. It may lead us to spaces that are uncomfortable or that challenge us to step outside the boundaries we set for ourselves. Yet, this message, this command, is at the heart of what Mercy has taught me. We may not always get it right, but we are challenged to try because at the very core of what we know to be true, we belong to each other.

Laura’s reflection is based on the scripture readings for Friday of the Third Week of Lent and was adapted with permission from the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community’s Lenten 2019 Reflection Booklet.

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