31 October, 2021, Thirty-First Sunday, Year B: Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 12:28b-34
Jesus’ response to the Scribe in today’s Gospel is as challenging as it is timely. It is timely, because in an increasingly contentious world, most people do not do what Jesus and scribe do, speaking to one another, person-to-person.
What is more likely nowadays—and it may not have been very different in Jesus’ day—is that you and I first identify each other’s ideology and then decide whether we will agree or fight.
In a polarized world, it becomes very difficult to see the person behind the label. It becomes even more difficult when I mistake myself for any label I assume, rather than, wrestling with life and its challenges, discover who I really am. If I believe I am what I label myself, I’m choosing to deny so much—about myself and the world around me. I am no longer interested in facts but believe only what I want to believe.
Both Jesus and the Scribe take a very different route. They talk person-to-person rather than ideology against ideology. Why? Because they are seeking what is true, no matter the cost. And this path is costly; it requires humility. And if I can’t be humble can I at least co-operate with the humiliations life delivers, so my arrogant certitude may loosen its grip on my thinking?
I wonder, did Jesus lose any credibility among his followers because he approved this Scribe’s opinion? Was the Scribe less welcome among his learned peers because he was truly seeking Jesus’ opinion, rather than trying to trap him?
Neither of them was afraid to stand on his own two feet, not depending on the approbation of the crowd nor attempting to win esteem. What a challenge to each of us!