TOBIT 6: 9 – 12; 7: 1cd, 9 – 12, 16; 8: 1, 4 – 9a
In those days: when he entered Media and was already approaching Ecbatana, Raphael said to the young man, “Brother Tobias!” “Here I am,” he answered. Then Raphael said to him, “We must stay this night in the home of Raguel. He is your relative, and he has a daughter named Sarah. He has no male heir and no daughter except Sarah only, and you, as next of kin to her; have before all other men a hereditary claim on her. Also, it is right for you to inherit her father’s possessions. Moreover, the girl is sensible, brave, and very beautiful, and her father is a good man.” And they found Raguel sitting beside the courtyard door. They greeted him first, and he replied, “Joyous greetings, brothers; welcome and good health!” Then he brought them into his house. Then Raguel killed a ram from the flock and received them very warmly. When they had bathed and washed themselves and had reclined to dine, Tobias said to Raphael, “Brother Azarius, ask Raguel to give me my kinswoman Sarah.” But Raguel overheard it and said to Tobias, “Eat, drink, and be merry; for no one except you, brother, has the right to marry my daughter Sarah. Likewise, I am not at liberty to give her to any other man than yourself, because you are my nearest relative. But let me explain the true situation to you. I have given my daughter to seven men of our kinsmen, and when each came to her he died in the night. But for the present, my child, eat and drink, and the Lord will act on behalf of you both.” But Tobias said, “I will eat nothing here until you make a binding agreement with me.” So Raguel said, “I will do so. She is given to you in accordance with the decree in the book of Moses, and it has been decreed from heaven that she be given to you. Take your kinswoman; from now on you are her brother and she is your sister. She is given to you from today and for ever, May the Lord of heaven, my child, guide and prosper you both this night and grant you mercy and peace.” And Raguel called his wife Edna and said to her, “Sister, make up the other room and take her into it.” When they had finished eating and drinking they wanted to retire; so they took the young man and brought him into the bedroom. When the door was shut and the two were alone, Tobias got up from the bed and, said, “Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grants us mercy and safety.” And they began to say, “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers, and blessed be your holy and glorious name for ever. Let the heavens and all your creatures bless you. You made Adam and gave him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung. You said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’ And now, O Lord, I am not taking this sister of mine because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that I may find mercy and may grow old together with her.” And they both said, “Amen, amen.” Then they both went to sleep for the night.
The Word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 128: 1 – 2, 3, 4 – 5 (R.) 1a
R/. Blessed are all who fear the Lord.
Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be blessed and prosper. R/.
Your wife like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive
around your table. R/.
Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Sion.
May you see Jerusalem prosper
all the days of your life! R/.
2nd Timothy 1: 10
Our Saviour Christ Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. Alleluia.
“There is no other commandment greater than these.”
MARK 12: 28b – 34
At that time: One of the scribes came up and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you 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.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: The Gift of Understanding
June 8, 2023
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. (Mark 12:34)
Finally, we have the witness of one of the religious leaders, a scribe, who got it right. The passage above is the conclusion of the interaction with this scribe who asks Jesus which of all the commandments is the first and greatest. Jesus gives the twofold answer that we are to love God above all, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. The scribe then responds to Jesus’ answer by saying, “Well said, teacher. You are right…” And then Jesus compliments this scribe with the quoted passage above.
Recall that almost all of the Pharisees were continually rebuked by Jesus because of their self-righteous arrogance. The Sadducees were also chastised but often to a lesser degree. And now we have a scribe who outshines them all. The scribes were primarily functionaries who copied or created various liturgical and legal documents. Some of the Pharisees were also scribes. And most of the time, when Jeus condemned the Pharisees, He also condemned the scribes. But this scribe is different. This scribe appears to not only be interested in Jesus’ answer but also manifests “understanding” of what Jesus said to him. Don’t underestimate the importance of this gift of understanding.
In order to truly understand that which our Lord speaks to us, we must be open. And openness requires humility. Humility is a virtue that is contrary to a “know-it-all” attitude. It’s a disposition of mind and heart that listens to God speak, hears what He says, comprehends all truth by the gift of grace, and prayerfully submits to that truth. Humility enables us to look beyond ourselves for the answers to the most difficult questions in life. It enables us to turn to the one and only source of truth, Jesus Christ Himself. And the fruit of this humble openness is the gift of understanding. It’s an understanding of the mysteries of life which is beyond our natural intellectual capacity. The grace of God is able to teach and form the humble soul and fill it with clarity of vision and an acceptance of the deepest truths.
Reflect, today, upon Jesus’ words to this scribe. “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” Does Jesus also speak these words to you? Have you humbly sought out the answers to the many questions of life by turning to our Lord? More specifically, are you able to look at your life and rejoice in the fact that God has also given you His gift of understanding? If not, then look within and consider which questions you most need to bring to Jesus. Place them before Him and then listen, be open and be ready to respond when He speaks. Hearing and responding to our Lord will result in our Lord saying these same words to you.
My Lord of all Truth, You look upon the humble souls with graciousness and mercy, and You reveal to them the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Please give me the gift of humility, dear Lord, so that I may always turn to You with every question in life. Fill me with the gift of understanding so that I may know how to love and serve You more faithfully each and every day. Jesus, I trust in You.