“We will say no more, ‘Our God, to the work of our hands.”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Hosea 14:1-9
Thus says the Lord: Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.” I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, he shall strike root as the poplar, his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon. O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress, from me comes your fruit. Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm81:6c-8a.8bc-9.10—11ab.1 4and 17 (R. see 11a.9b)
R/. I am the Lord your God: listen to my voice.
A voice I did not know said to me:
“I freed your shoulder from the burden;
your hands were freed from the builder’s basket.
You called in distress and I delivered you.” R/.
“I answered, concealed in the thunder;
at the waters of Meribah I tested you.
Listen, my people, as I warn you.
O Israel, if only you would heed!” R/.
“Let there be no strange god among you,
nor shall you worship a foreign god.
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” R/.
“O that my people would heed me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
But Israel I would feed with finest wheat,
and satisfy with honey from the rock.” R/.
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL Matthew 4:17
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Repent, says the Lord, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
“The Lord our God, the Lord is one,’ and you shall love him.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (Mark 12:28b-34)
At that time: One of the scribes came up to Jesus and asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.
The Gospel of the Lord.
The Hebrew Scriptures, our own Old Testament, contain a multitude of commandments. The scribe in today’s Gospel wanted to know which of them was the first, Jesus gave the answer. The first was to love God above all things, with every atom of your being. But he would not let the scribe get away without also learning the second commandment, which was to love your neighbour as yourself. These two commandments always go together. It is not possible to love God without loving our neighbour, just as it is hypocritical to say that we love our neighbour when we don’t love God.