First Reading | Hosea 14:2-10
Hosea knows that only God can save Israel from its enemies. Today, God is still the only One who can save us from sin. There are times when we look elsewhere for salvation and resort to self-help and human techniques to manipulate our world. These are helpful to a point, but we must rely on God’s grace to win over sin and the devil.
2 Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. 3 Take with you words, and return to the Lord; say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls. 4 Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount; we shall say no more, ‘Our god,’’ to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion.” 5 I will heal their defection, says the Lord, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them. 6 I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, 7 and put forth his shoots. His splendor shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar. 8 Again they shall dwell in his shade and raise grain; they shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. 9 Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols? I have humbled him, but I will prosper him. “I am like a verdant cypress tree”—Because of me you bear fruit! 10 Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.
Responsorial Psalm | Psalm 81:6-8, 8-9, 10-11, 14, 17
R: I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.
6 An unfamiliar speech I hear: 7 “I relieved his shoulder of the burden; his hands were freed from the basket. 8 In distress you called, and I rescued you.” (R) “Unseen, I answered you in thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. 9 Hear, my people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, will you not hear me?” (R) 10 “There shall be no strange god among you nor shall you worship any alien god. 11 I, the Lord, am your God who led you forth from the land of Egypt.” (R) 14 “If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways, 17 I would feed with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them.” (R)
Gospel | Mark 12:28-34
The two fundamental bases of a holy life are love of God and love of neighbor. Every other law depends on these two. St. Alphonsus Liguori reduces it purely to love of God when he says, “Love God and do what you please!” If we love God and allow that love to be the basis of everything we do, then we will please Him precisely because it is done out of love for Him. May Jesus teach us how to love God in the way He loves the Father, and may this love become the foundation stone for all that we do.
Repent, says the Lord; the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.
28 One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” 29 Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! 30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. 33 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.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.