“Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Mark 12:31

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Mark 12:30-31

Jesus lived a life focused on God. All that he believed and said and did was rooted in his relationship with God. In this, he was following the command of God given to the Israelites in Deuteronomy, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut 6:5). This command to wholehearted love can seem a little daunting, and we can wonder where the space is to love others or even ourselves. This command seems more suited for the angels and saints, not us ordinary mortals

In Mark’s gospel, we are told the story of Jesus being asked, which of the commandments is the greatest. Jesus said that it was the commandment to love God wholeheartedly, and then, without prompting, he told them that there was a second commandment just like the first, and it was to love one’s neighbour.

In other words, we love God best when we love our brothers and sisters, when we are working to make the world a better, more just and loving place. God does not ask us to choose between loving partners or children but to love God through our love for them.

When we are able to love in this way, when we love as Jesus did, then I believe we are more able to live lives of integrity and authenticity, lives in which our values, words, choices and actions are all in alignment.

Lord God,

May we love our brothers and sisters with all our hearts, and so love you better.


Fr Bruce Botha SJ

Fr Bruce Botha SJ was born in Durban, KZN. He received a diploma in education from the University of Natal and then taught physical science for 4 years at Scottburgh High School. He joined the Society of Jesus and did his noviciate in Cape Town. He then studied philosophy in London and theology in Berkeley, California. Between philosophy and theology, in the period of formation known as regency, he worked as the director of counselling for an HIV research centre. After ordination in 2006 he worked in Holy Trinity, Braamfontein and is currently the parish priest of St Martin de Porres, Orlando West and Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.

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