Reflection on Mark 12.28-34 (Lent)

The scribe said: this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.

As we entered the season of Lent many will have embarked upon a period of fasting. They will have committed themselves to sacrificing something they find pleasurable. Others may have taken up a commitment to prayer, or systematic reading of the bible, or serving others. No matter what form our Lenten discipline may take, many will have committed themselves to a period of self-sacrifice. But, why? How do our various Lenten disciplines serve God? How do they further the mission and ministry of the Church?

Today we are reminded that any form of sacrifice is of no consequence unless it honours God. Jesus himself spells it out for us: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Jesus goes on to say: love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. So … in the light of Jesus’ words we should be consistently asking ourselves how our Lenten disciplines, or any other sacrifices we choose to make, bring us into a closer relationship with God?

In recent times the Church has had to embark upon various campaigns to promote generous and sacrificial giving. These campaigns, which are rooted in scripture, have led some to talk about their own generosity, while others have tried to earmark their giving for the preservation of buildings and artefacts. Such talk has turned the relationship between the Church and some people into a business transaction … something that could not be further from God’s will.

As we make sacrifices in the name of God we need to understand that that involves letting go. Rather than offering time, talents or treasure with strings attached, we are called to make our sacrifices and then trust God to use them as he sees fit. Our focus should be on loving God and neighbour, and that with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Let us pray that we might remain firm in our commitment to live a life of sacrificial love, and that, through the sacrifices we make, God might further his plans for humanity. Let us pray that we might set aside the conditions we like to attach to our ‘generosity’ and open ourselves to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that all we say and do might be to the glory of God, and never to the glory of self.