Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 31
Let Us Pray Daily for the Strength and For the Grace to Love Each Other as God Would Have Us Love, So That His Kingdom May Truly Reside within Each and Every One of Us.
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.” At Jesus’ words, a hush fell on the crowd. “And no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
Jesus was accustomed to scribes and Pharisees approaching him with questions about the Law. They prided themselves in the knowledge of the Mosaic Law and its ritual requirements. They made it a life-time practice to study its six hundred and thirteen precepts, along with the numerous rabbinic commentaries.
Jesus often used these questions as an opportunity to respond with a parable or teaching that challenged His questioners’ assumptions, to the point of even uncovering their hypocrisy. But this time, Jesus said something completely unexpected. What was different?
Jesus saw that this man already had some understanding of what the Mosaic Law truly taught. Even though we do not know much about this scribe, his words demonstrate that he must have had some personal experience of the uselessness of empty sacrifice and hollow lip-service.
For from his heart, he responded. “Well said, teacher.” And “Jesus saw that he answered with understanding.” Our Lord read his heart and knew that this scribe’s faith was not one of pious arrogance or disdain for those who were unknowledgeable of the Law, but rather he was one who lived the words which Moses gave to God’s Chosen People –
“Hear, O 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.”
In the depths of the faith which this scribe lived, he was able to understand that loving God and loving his neighbor as himself was his highest goal – that loving God and others actually fulfilled not only the letter, but also the spirit of the Law.
And it is this spirit of the Law which guides each of us in our love for God and all that He asks of us today, a love which calls both you and me into that special relationship with our Creator, not unlike a truly loving relationship between bride and bridegroom, in which both vow loving fidelity to each other.
No matter what our faith persuasion may be, it is Christ who becomes the Eternal Bridegroom and we, as members of the Body of Christ, become His bride.
And no matter how many times we might become unfaithful in our relationship with Him, God is always faithful to us, and always willing to forgive and embrace us as a loving and faithful Spouse.
For He offered Himself to His Heavenly Father as the unblemished Sacrificial Lamb for our redemption, allowing Himself to be sacrificed on the Cross forever mending the fractured relationship which existed between God and man due to the disobedience of our first parents.
It is because of this singular Sacrifice, and with the help of God’s grace, that our Lord invites His faithful children to become co-heirs with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. For we read from the Letter to the Hebrews today, “[Jesus] has a priesthood that does not pass away. Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.”
In this intercession which the Eternal Word Incarnate makes for us before the Throne of His Eternal Father, we begin to appreciate, in a much more profound way, the infinite and indescribable Love which God has for each of us, His children.
For we read in the First Letter of John, “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
And I am sure we are all familiar with the well-known verse found in John’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
It is only natural that our deepest desire, our deepest yearning is to be near to the God who sacrificed His Only-Begotten Son out of His immeasurable Love for each of us, so that you and I might have the gift of everlasting life and have it to the fullest!
Jesus is explaining to this scribe, who is seeking righteousness in his own life, God’s expectations of him and us in regards to loving God with all our heart, and loving our neighbor as ourselves – putting the needs of God and others before our own.
A unique concept? – by no means – but it is a concept that seems elusive in the lives of many, wherein selfishness, ego and “what feels good is ok” is part of the thinking and way of life for many people – and this is where they are at odds with God’s Law of selfless love.
As a Christian people, we are asked to live this love in our lives, even when it seems difficult. Sometimes our neighbors are not always so neighborly, finding patience in a grocery line where there always seems to be some trouble at the register, being stuck in traffic making us late for an important appointment, being insulted or ridiculed for the way we think, the way we dress, or the way we act.
There are so many countless ways in which our lives are tested, so many ways in which the love we are asked to show others is oftentimes strained and stretched to its limits.
Let us pray daily for the strength and for the grace to love each other as God would have us love, so that the His Kingdom may truly reside within each and every one of our hearts.
Our Lord showed us from Calvary what it truly means to love selflessly, and we must do no less!
And may the words of today’s psalmist echo what is deep within our own hearts, “I love you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Jesus replied, ‘The first is this: “Hear, O Israel! 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.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” (Mark 12:29-30; Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
- “Take to heart these words which I command you today.” (Deuteronomy 6:6)
- “[Jesus] has a priesthood that does not pass away. Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:24b-25)
- “It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26)
- “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
- “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)
- “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
- “I love you, LORD, my strength, LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!” (Psalm 18:2b-3)
Prayer for the Day
“Eternal and Most Loving Father,Anonymous
I submit my entire self to Your holy will.
All that I am today, transform me into Your servant;
living Your Truth amongst my brothers and sisters.
“Thank You for imbuing me with Your Holy Spirit,
who guides me to live a life of righteousness,
enabling me to be all that You desire me to be,
so that I may give my best in service to Your children.
“Forgive me for my past failures,
rejecting the image of Christ in those around me.
In selfishness, I held back Your Love
and fell short in living the virtue of charity.
“Fill my heart with humility,
so that I may always fulfill Your will,
imitating the life of Your Son, Jesus,
giving love without counting the cost.
“In Jesus’ Name, I pray for this grace
for the glory of Your Divine Majesty,
in the Presence of the Holy Spirit,
and for the well-being of my soul for all eternity. Amen.”