Hate, in a Holy Week- Friday, 3rd Week of Lent – 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 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.

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