Recognising the truth

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Princess

Readings: Hosea 14:2-10; Mark 12:28-34

"Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.'" (Mark 12:34)

In traditional tales, people are often not what they at first appear to be. When a bedraggled young woman arrives at the castle door in "The Princess and the Pea", no one believes that she can possibly be a princess. The queen devises a secret test of placing a pea under a pile of mattresses. After the woman emerges bruised from a sleepless night, the prince is forced to believe that, despite appearances, she is a true princess.

When the scribe asks his question in today's Gospel, the crowd may have assumed that his purpose was to trick Jesus into giving an answer that would lead into dangerously unorthodox territory. They, and perhaps we as readers, have expectations that a scribe, one of those often mentioned in the same breath as the Pharisees, would have dubious intentions in asking a question to which he already knew the answer. But Jesus recognises the scribe's integrity, as well as the wisdom that he shows in understanding that the twin commandments to love God and neighbour surpass all else. It is little wonder that the crowd is silenced; there is nothing further to be said. The only thing needed now is that they follow these commandments.

We can all be quick to make assumptions about others, but Jesus saw the individual rather than the group to which that person belonged. Like him, we need to try to recognise truth wherever we find it and, like the scribe, to follow Jesus' commandments.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us not to make assumptions and judgements about others but to recognise truth and wisdom wherever we find them. Instead of judging others, help us to concentrate our hearts and minds on following your twin commandments to love God and our neighbour. Amen.

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