November 4, 2018
by Mariana Miller
Creighton University's Ministry and Christian Spirituality Programs
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 152

Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Psalms 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 12:28b-34

Praying Ordinary Time

In the first reading, we witness Moses’ exhortation to the people of Israel:

“The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!  Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today."
(Vv. 4-6)

Moses is telling his people that there is ONE God and that they should give God their undivided love. This was a real novelty because all their neighboring peoples had a multiplicity of gods that everybody worshiped at different times depending on seasons and needs.

Here, the people of Israel are asserting their identity as monotheistic, but even more than that, they believe in a god that demands their love, with all their heart, with all their soul , with all their strength; their God asks for all their LOVE. The Jewish God was a personal and relational God, a god who wanted to be in relation with his people.

In the gospel passage for today, Jesus quotes the scripture text in the first reading in responding to a scribe about the greatest commandment and adds that the second greatest commandment is: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (v. 31) Jesus puts love of God and love of neighbor together. In this teaching moment Jesus shows us what he lives, he teaches us what it means to love God: to love God is to love our neighbor like we love ourselves. The scribe, who was testing him not only accepts this as “well said” (v. 32), but ads “…And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (v. 33) This scribe, interpreter of the Jewish law makes this remarkable claim. He really goes to the root of Jesus’ message. He realizes that loving God is not about burning offerings and sacrifices but bout loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. And he was not far from the kingdom of God. (v. 34)

Do we really believe that loving God with our whole humanity and loving our neighbor like we love ourselves is more important than burning offerings and sacrifices? Do we live accordingly? Do we try to “substitute” love for our neighbor? How?

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