Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Great Commandment

And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. - Mark 12:33

Jesus has just summed up the law for the scribe in this section of St. Mark's gospel. The scribe has affirmed a truth of our faith, that love is worth more to God than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

The truth is that love in its very essense is sacrificial for it denies the self for the sake of the beloved. While the law prescribes that Israel offer animal sacrifices, they were never meant to be a permanent fixture in the plan of salvation. Animal sacrifice was substitutional in that the innocent animal be it lamb, goat, dove, etc., took on the sin of the person who offerred it. This pointed to and prepared us for Christ's true offering of love on the cross, the innocent victim for the sins of all humanity.

So when offer God praise, and when we realize that we do so out of love for God which spills over to our neighbor then we are offering a sacrifice which is united with Christ's sacrifice of love on the cross. This is why it is worth more than all the burnt offerings. This is why Christ says, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."


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