Respect for God and Others
Opening Question: Who is one of the most important persons in your life? How do you show them respect?
First Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4-6
James sat alone. For the first time in his life, he felt no one liked him. No one respected him. His shoulders slumped down. His head was between his legs. He could have tied the championship soccer game. But his shot went wide. The referee’s whistle blew. The other team cheered, while James’ team quietly walked off the field.
James cared. He cared about his team, his coach, his family and friends. But none were there to care for him when he needed it the most. His parents were too busy with their friends to come to his game. His coach said nothing as he packed up his car to leave. The some of other kids on his team waited as their parents opened their cars and minivans and loaded their stuff. Still, other kids waited patiently for their parents to pick them up. No one seemed to want to talk to James, the boy that lost the game. “I’m a loser,” James whispered to himself, as his heart sank even lower.
“No, you’re not!”
“Where did that voice come from?” James wondered. He looked around and saw no one.
“You’re not a loser. You just had a bad day.” James realized that voice came from within. Not from his head, but from his heart. But the words did not match the feeling of despair he had. The words were not his. But they were important.
“God, is that you?” James prayed. While James did not get an answer, he knew one person in the world respected him, cared about him, loved him.
James stood up, dusted himself off, and smiled. “Thank you, God.” James prayed in his heart. “Yes, this was a bad day. There will be better days. And more championships to win.”
If there is one person in the world that loves us, cares about us, and respects us, it is God. He asks that we return his love. This is how we do it:
(Read the First Reading)
Bridge Questions: Who do you respect? How do they respect you?
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
After he heard Jesus and the Sadducees debating, a scribe saw Jesus answered their argument well. So he approached Jesus with a question: “What commandment are the most important and guides our understanding of all the others?”
“The first is this,” Jesus answered,
Our God is God, the only God!
You must love the Lord our God with all your heart, your spirit, your mind, and your strength.’
The second is this:
‘You must love everyone else like yourself.’
No other commandments are greater than these.”
“Well done, Teacher!” the scribe responded. “You’re right when you said:
‘He is the only God and there is no other god besides him,’
Love the God with everything you have,’
and, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’
Obeying these commandments is worth far more than all the worship in the Temple at Jerusalem!”
Jesus saw the scribe answered wisely. So Jesus replied, “You’re not far from God’s Kingdom.” Nobody dared to ask Jesus anymore questions.
“If you like me...” These were Sandra’s favorite words. Many people knew and admired Sandra for her good grades in school, her sports talent, and musical ability. While Sandra knew many people, she had few friends. Why? Because she would always try to get people to do things for her. “If you like me, you would get me notes from class, a soda from the machine, a colored ribbon for my hair.” “If you like me, you would pass the ball to me more.” If you like me...”
One day, a new girl came to school named Jenny. Jenny was as talented and smart as Sandra. At first, people compared the two girls. Both were very similar in school and on the field. But that opinion would change. One girl would change.
Soon, Jenny’s reputation got around to Sandra. And Sandra decided to make Jenny her new friend. The girls began to talk during recess, then after school, and finally on the phone during the weekend. Sandra and Jenny were becoming friends, until Sandra spoke her favorite words: “If you like me...”
Jenny and Sandra planned a Saturday at the mall. Both had money to spend, but Sandra wanted to save her money for a special toy she saw in the mall window. So, when the girls walked into the food court, Sandra said, “Jenny, if you really like me, you would buy me lunch. I want a burger with curly fries and a vanilla shake.”
“What?” Jenny replied. She couldn’t belief what she heard. “Sandra, if you liked me, you would respect me. Our friendship does not simply depend upon what I can do for you. You have money to buy lunch. I’m not your bank!”
Sandra was stunned. No one had ever talked to her like that before. She didn’t know what to say. Quietly, Sandra took out her money and got in line for lunch. As Sandra sat down with Jenny, she mutter softly, “I’m sorry.”
With those words, Jenny’s anger cooled. “Sandra, I like doing things together with you. But, I am your equal, not your slave.” Jenny was silent for a moment. Then she smiled, “I forgive you. Let’s eat and go window shop some more.” The girls agreed to the plan and had a great afternoon.
Never again did Sandra use those words: “If you like me...” Instead, her favorite words became: “would you like to...”
Like Jenny, Jesus insisted that we show God and others one thing: respect. Loving God with all we have and all we are shows God that he is our creator. And we are his creatures. Loving others the same way we love ourselves show others that everyone is equal. When we love God above anything else, and when we love everyone as our equals, we show respect.
Closing Question: How can I show God respect? How can I show others I respect them?