"love...is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
Today's Gospel features Jesus being tested by the scribes and Pharisees, not an uncommon story to take place. But what is unusual is that Jesus satisfies them with His answers, and the scribe satisfies Him as well. They both can agree that love is more important, worth more than the burnt offerings and sacrifices, following the rituals of the culture.
The Gospels over the last week or so have debated "the rules" back and forth. Do they need to be followed exactly? Are they more like guidelines? Did Jesus support them? Did He abolish them? What are we supposed to do this!
Today answers that question. Yes, the rules are there and they are important. But the most important rule, to love God with all our hearts, minds, and bodies needs to come first. Sacrifices and burnt offerings mean nothing if we don't love God and our neighbor first. It doesn't matter how much meat we don't eat today if we don't act with love towards God and our neighbors.
Today, as we fast, pray and give, we first need to love. Try to fast from a place of love, abstaining from meat today while deeply loving God. Pray for the strength to love our neighbor, even the ones who are different than us (like in the Good Samaritan), even the ones we don't agree with. Finally, give God all the love we have to give, try to let love consume you the way Jesus asks us to: mind, body, and soul.
Fast with love, pray for strength, give God love as Jesus taught us.