A teacher of the law had been listening to this discussion and admired how Jesus answered them. So he came up and asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”
Jesus answered, “The first is: Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”
The teacher of the law said to him, “Well spoken, Master; you are right when you say that he is one, and there is no other besides him. To love him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”
Jesus approved this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
It is noteworthy that many great apostles of the Christian faith have often experienced periods of forced inactivity due to various factors. One of these would often be bad health or incapacitating illnesses. But, more simply, before the invention of the airplane, the train and the steamboat, a lot of apostolic time was lost in traveling. It is said of the great missionary Francis Xavier, for example, that he spent as much time on various boats traveling around Asia than he spent in actual apostolate.
In today’s first reading Paul refers to the fact that he is presently in chains, imprisoned. We know from Acts 28: 30 that Paul was under house arrest for a two full years in Rome. Later he suffered a last imprisonment in Rome (around the years 66-67) while awaiting his execution by decapitation.
For all super-active apostles like Paul and Xavier, these experiences of forced inactivity must have been particularly painful. Yet, it is also quite possible that they would have provided them with the opportunity of deepening their prayer life, purifying their motivations, practicing Christian forgiveness toward their jailors.
For a person of God, nothing is ever wasted.
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