Day 24: Friday of 3rd week of Lent

Children of the Yeshiva School with Rabbi near them

THE SCRIBE

 

  1. Document: Holy Scripture Readings

1.1.  First Reading: The Book of the prophet Hosea 14: 2-10

1.2.  Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St Mark 12: 28-34

1.3.  Simple Comment: The prophet Hosea reminds Israel that straight are the paths of the Lord; in them the just walk, however, the sinners stumble in them. In the Gospel Jesus responding to the scribe who honestly sought for the essential in life places the twofold commandment of love of God and love of neighbor as the focal point of a seeker of the reign of God. He commends the insight of the scribe who saw the importance of following the law of love as greater than any other sacrifice.

 

  1. Monument: Rabbi in Jerusalem

2.1.  With the disappearance of the Temple of Jerusalem since the year 70 A.D. the synagogue has taken prominence in the faith-life and faith-practice of the Jews. With the absence of the ritual sacrifices due to the absence of the altar of sacrifice, the focus has been the study of the Word of God.

2.2.  The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in the caves of Qumran in 1947 has further enhanced this important shift in the Jewish faith. These scrolls have confirmed the authenticity of the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures called Tanakh. Together with this movement, the preeminence of the scribe as the expert copier of the Scriptures in the olden times has also been positively re-evaluated; all the more so the figure of the Rabbi with his Yeshiva or School of the Torah.

2.3.  In the time of Jesus there were two famous schools of the Torah, held by the two contrasting positions of Rabbi Hillel (more open and progressive) and Rabbi Shammai (more conservative). From the indications of the Jesus’ treatment of the Sabbath and other Jewish ritual practices, it seems he favored more the school of Rabbi Hillel. No doubt, Jesus himself would stress that there is only one Rabbi, one Teacher. Everyone else is a disciple. In fact, he told his own disciples on the day of his Ascension to heaven that their mission was to make other disciples as they too remain always as his disciples.

 

  1. Lenten Reflection

3.1.  A scribe in the time of Jesus had the tedious work of rewriting for rabbis, and those who wanted a copy of the Laws, 613 rules in all; these 613 rules were meant to support the faithful practice of the Ten Commandments. There has been this augmentation of laws through the ages because the faithful Jew wanted to make sure these ten will not be broken; thus laws upon laws were added to preserve the fidelity to the Ten. Rightly then did the scribe ask Jesus which of these 613 laws was the most essential and life-giving.

3.2.  We run into a big danger when in the spirit of pooh-poohing the laws which support the Ten Commandments, we forsake even the fulfillment of the Ten. This is actually happening in our post-modern society. We have the strong temptation to bend the Commandments or make our own rules suited to our taste and convenience. We thereby need to re-discover God’s caring love in giving us clear guidelines. Failing to do so we grope in the dark abyss of extreme subjectivity and relativism characteristic of our day.

 

  1. Contemporary Filipino Question: We are eager more than ever to change our Philippine Constitutions of 1987. It may be a good move with its valid points. However, we run in the danger of thinking that it is the panacea to resolve our country’s ills. The truth is that as a people we have not yet learnt to subscribe to the execution of our laws as much as to circumvent them according to our immediate needs and individual advantages. Our nation continues to grope in the dark abyss of kanya-kanya. The great challenge is both evangelical and societal – to give a minimum of deliberate and self-sacrificing love for our country as patriots.