Mark 12:28-34 (NRSV)
Verse 28One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Verse 29Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; Verse 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' Verse 31The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Verse 32Then the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that 'he is one, and besides him there is no other'; Verse 33and 'to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,' and 'to love one's neighbor as oneself,' -this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." Verse 34When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that no one dared to ask him any question.
Recently, my six-year-old child was doing some drawing. He and his older sister like to create cartoon-like characters out of images of everyday things: pieces of pie or roller skates with cute faces and personalities, etc. In this case, my son was drawing a superhero out of a diamond shape whose insignia included a cross in the middle. He asked me a few times, “Did you see the cross on there mom?” When I said that I did, he then said, “I included the cross because I couldn’t think of a better way to show a sign for peace.” Of course, my pastoral brain started spinning about the theological meaning, but I think his six-year-old interpretation is probably a simpler, more profound truth: the cross means peace. We also sometimes try to complicate discipleship too much. Jesus’ message here is simple: love God and love your neighbors. There is no other commandment greater than these.
Savior of all, thank you for teachings that draw us into relationships with our neighbors and with you. Forgive us for the times we complicate your truth and diminish the abundance of your love and grace. Amen.