Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 DT 6:2-6
Responsorial Psalm PS 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
- (2) I love you, Lord, my strength.
Reading 2 HEB 7:23-28
Alleluia JN 14:23
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord;
and my father will love him and we will come to him.
Gospel MK 12:28B-34
Homily—November 3 & 4, 2018—31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
We are nearing the end of the church year: In three weeks, we will celebrate the feast of Christ the King and the following Sunday will usher in Advent. As we near the end of our liturgical year, the readings turn towards the end of Jesus’ earthly life. The Gospel interaction with the scribe takes place inside the Jerusalem Temple a few days before Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
On this day in the temple, Jesus is first approached by several irate chief priests and scribes who demand to know where he thinks he gets the authority to do and preach what he does. Once they leave, a group of Herodians and Pharisees try to trap him with a question about paying taxes. Then, it is the Sadducees who introduce a ridiculous tale of a woman made to marry seven brothers in succession all to try and disprove the resurrection of the dead. It is amazing that Jesus is not completely fed up by the time the lone scribe from today’s Gospel reading draws near. Unlike the questioners before him, this scribe is not intent on tripping up Jesus. Rather, intrigued by “how well he had answered the Sadducees the scribe decides to see how Jesus might respond to the question, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus’ response echoes the words of Moses in today’s first reading from Deuteronomy. Known as the “Shema” (for the first word of the prayer, “Hear, O Israel”) Take time to reflect on these two great commandments that Jesus joins together. “The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The effect of joining these two commandments means that we cannot love God without loving our neighbor and if we love our neighbor we love God.
Devotion to God is not genuine unless it includes love for neighbor, commitment to others is incomplete without recognition of God as the Source of all love. It is in the compassion and kindness extended to others that our humanity most resembles God, it is in the respect and honor in which we hold others that we most praise the God of love, it is in acts of charity and selflessness that we mirror the love of God in our midst.