Hate, in a Holy Week- 3rd Week of Lent- Friday- Mark 12: 28- 34
The text of today corresponds to the Tuesday of the Holy Week. Jesus in Mark Chapter 11 entered Jerusalem on a donkey in triumph. He spends the evening of Palm Sunday at Bethany and returns to the temple on Monday morning, driving away the money changers. The next day was testing and trying Tuesday. All through chapter 11 and 12, the Pharisees, Sadducees and their common enemy the Herodians, now ‘bosom buddies’ in their anti-Jesus cause, are out to trap the Lord.
They are relentless. “What is your authority?”, they ask and so He tells them the parable of the wicked tenants. Too late do they realise that He has turned the tables against them (12:12). So they send the Pharisees and the Herodians, hated enemies, now friends, in an evil cause, to trap Him. This time the issue is about paying taxes. When they fail again they send in the big guns, the Sadducees, the interpreters of the law, with the question on the resurrection.
In all this insanity of hate, a scribe of seemingly good disposition, “seeing that He (Jesus) had answered well”, asks Him a question that was once asked to the great Jewish rabbi, Hillel; ‘Which is the greatest commandment?’ Hillel’s answer was, “What you hate for yourself, do not do to your neighbour.” So was Jesus’ answer very different from the Rabbis? Jesus’ answer is a combination of orthodoxy and His fondness for going to the root of things (JBC).
In answering the question, Jesus combined two Old Testament instructions. He put the traditional Shemma (Hebrew: hear), found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (words that are still recited twice daily by persons of the Jewish faith), and the law of Leviticus 19:8, together. Jesus brought together the balance, or the vertical and horizontal dimension, which our lives must have.
Deuteronomy speaks of our love for God. Now think of a vertical beam stretching from the earth to heaven. Hold that image. Next, Jesus quotes Leviticus which talks of my love for my neighbour. Now go back to the image of the vertical beam and to that add a horizontal beam of ‘my love for my neighbour’. Yes! You got it right, it forms a cross. The teaching of Jesus has a vertical dimension and a horizontal dimension. Our lives must have both elements-love for God and and love for others. And in the cross, Jesus did exactly that!
This Jerusalem scribe approached Jesus with heart and mind in the right place. He could see that the attack from the Herodians, Sadducees and Pharisees was merely a personal attack. He clearly loved God and his neighbour unlike the hate that surrounded Jesus. It is this quality of heart and mind that evokes congratulations from Jesus, who saw that ‘he had answered wisely’. Imagine the Lord saying that to you, ‘you have lived well, loved much and spoken wisely.” That would certainly make your year, forget your day!
For most people, hate and anger is a venial sin to be confessed as a cushioning to one’s more grievous sins. After all, most of us only indulge in these ‘petty sins’ and murder has not even crossed our mind…or perhaps that one teeny tiny time! But the game changes when one sees the seed of murder in hate. The Jewish authorities did not begin their campaign against Jesus with thoughts of murder, yet soon enough they cried out, ‘crucify him’. Hate begins with a shade of red in our heads and transferred as blood onto our palms.
So do you hate? And if yes, where are you in your ‘Holy week of hate?’ Today’s text is taken from the ‘Tuesday’ of Holy week. In two days Jesus will be betrayed and spend a long dark night of betrayal before His death. So before your heart begins to chant ‘Crucify whomever you hate,’ take a breath, think like the scribe who chose to ask the right questions, seeking truth, not fanning hate.
Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit and in gratitude to God for the gift of life.
Fr Warner D’Souza may be contacted on whatsap on +91- 9820242151.
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