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Gospel for Sunday, October 31: Mark 12: 28-34

XXXI Sunday B

28Then one of the scribes who had heard them arguing approached and, seeing how well he had answered them, asked him: “Which is the first of all the commandments?”. 29Jesus replied: “The first is: Listen, Israel. The Lord our God is the only Lord; 30therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31And the second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment more important than these.” 32Then the scribe said to him: “You have said well, Master, and according to truth that He is unique and there is no other besides him; 33loving him with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength and loving your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34Jesus, seeing that he had responded wisely, said to him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one had the courage to question him anymore.

Mark 12: 28-34

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.


The great rabbinic tradition, in the chaos of Judaism’s prescriptions and decrees, sought, according to the question posed to Jesus by a doctor of the Law, who was “the first” (Mt 22,34-40), “the greatest” ( Mk 12,28-31) commandment, the one necessary “to have eternal life” (Lk 10,25-28), the one that could summarize all the Law and the Prophets (Mt 22,40). The Talmud said that Moses came and 613 commandments were given, 365 negative (the number of days in the year) and 248 positive (the number of the members of the human body); David came and reduced them to 11, according to the text of Psalm 15; Isaiah reduced them to 6, expressed in chapter 33 (Is 33,15-16); Micah brought them to 3, according to the passage Mi 6,8; again Isaiah summarized them in 2, according to chapter 56 (Is 56,1): “Observe justice and practice justice”; finally Habakkuk reduced them to just one: “The just will live by faith” (Hab 2.4).

Jesus taught that “the greatest and first of the commandments” was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” but that the second was “similar to the first: you will love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22,37-38); indeed, in Mark it is said: “There is no other commandment (editor’s note: in the singular) more important than these” (Mk 12,31), and Luke presents them as a single command, omitting the verb “you will love”, “agapèseis ” (Luke 10:27). Paul accepts the Talmudic tradition and uses the aforementioned passage from Habakkuk (Hab 2.4): “The just will live by faith” (Rom 1.17). But faith means entering into the logic of God’s plan of love, therefore Paul concludes: “Any other commandment is summed up in these words: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”… The full fulfillment of the law is love” ( Rom 13.9-10); “In fact, the whole Law finds its fullness in one precept: «You shall love your neighbor as yourself»” (Gal 5:14). For this reason the apostles constantly exhort: “Above all, let there be charity, which is the bond of perfection” (Col 3:14); “Love one another intensely, from the heart” (1 Pt 1,22); “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. He who does not love remains in death… He laid down his life for us: therefore we too must lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:14.16).

The “new commandment” of mutual love, which will become the distinctive feature of the disciples (Jn 13.34), is the only translation of the command to love God: God in fact wants to be loved in man: “If anyone were to say: «I I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar. Indeed, anyone who does not love his brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he does not see” (1 Jn 4:20); “If anyone has riches in this world, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how can the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3.17); “As often as you did these things to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Mt 25,40.45).

Christians now have a “new commandment” that must make them recognized among all men: to love one another (Jn 13.34). This is the only criterion of ecclesiality proposed to us by Christ: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13.35).

Why is this commandment “new”? It is revolutionary in its origin: we love each other because God loved us first (1 John 4.19). Furthermore, the love with which we must love one another finds its source in God: the Greek adverb “as” (“kathòs”) in the expression “as I have loved you” (Jn 13.34) does not only express a comparison, but rather rather causality, materiality: “Love each other with the same love with which I have loved you”. It is a new commandment for the measure: we will no longer have to love each other only as ourselves (Mt 19.38), but as Jesus loved us, that is “to the end” (Jn 13.1), to the point of giving our lives for others friends (Jn 15:13). And it is new in its extension: we will not only have to love “ours”, those of our group, our race or our religion, those we like, but even our enemies (Mt 5.45-48).

Fraternal love also opens us to the mystery of God: “Whoever loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love has not known God, because God is love” (1 John 4.7-8): many times our faith is weak precisely because we do not love; by loving, we can obtain “knowledge” of God, that is, enter into his intimacy: let’s remember this when we are in a “crisis of faith”…

But the ending of this passage tells us that loving is not enough: “Jesus, seeing that the man had responded with wisdom, said to him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God”. And no one else had the courage to ask questions anymore.” You are not far away: it is not enough to love. As he says to the rich young man: “You are missing something”; the command of love is not enough: we need to follow Christ, we need to welcome Jesus who of this love is the living incarnation of God for us today.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

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