Homily (Reflection) for the Thirty-First Sunday of the Year (B) (04th November, 2018) on the Gospel
Deut 6:2-6;Ps 17:2-4.47.51 (R.V. 2);
Johnny was going off to church one morning with several of his friends. His mother gave him two nickels, “One for you and one for God,” she said. As Johnny and his friends walked along, he was flipping a nickel up in the air and catching it, over and over. Finally, one time he missed it, and it rolled down a sewer.
“Oops!” he said. “There goes God’s nickel!” Culled from Thomas, T. (2010). Spice up your homilies. Mumbai: St Pauls, p. 121.
Topic: First of all Commandments.
An expert in the Jewish laws asked Jesus in today’s gospel, “Which commandment is the first of all?” It is important to note that there were two schools of thought by Jesus time with regard to the Jewish laws which were 613 at the time. One held that every law was as serious as the other. The other school held that some laws were more important than others. Religious leaders at that time belonged to either of these schools. It is obvious the school of thought the expert in law (scribe) who approached Jesus belonged to.
According to Sammlai in William Barclay. 2006: The Daily Study Bible (3), God gave Moses 613 precepts on Mount Sinai, 365 according to the days of the sun year, and 248 according to the generations of men. However, this position is not generally accepted. Some believed that the multiplication was done by the Jews. David in Psalm 15: 2-5, could make out only eleven (11) out of all these laws. Isaiah reduced them to 6 in Is 33:15; Micah to 3 in Mic 6:8; Isaiah later brought them to 2 in Is 56:1; Habakkuk reduced them to 1 in Hab 2:4.
Jesus brought together two important laws – love of God (Deut 6:4-5) and love of man (Lev 19:18) into one: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength … You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mk 12:30-31).
Loving God in this way implies loving Him with our whole life and loving our neighbours as ourselves implies a love that is limitless. Jesus is telling us in essence not to stop loving God and our neighbour. This is because to love God with one’s entire heart, soul, mind, and strength is to love Him without reserve. With regard to love for one’s neighbour, nobody in his or her right senses ever hates him/herself, cf. Eph 5:29.
Jesus would later reduced these two laws to one – love of neighbour which he called the mark of a Christian (Jn 13:34-35). For St. Paul, it is the greatest of all the gifts, 1Cor 13. And for Saint John, anybody who hates his or her neighbour cannot love God, cf. 1Jn 4:20.
Love of neighbour is not limited to loving the members of one’s family, religious group, church, and so on. We are all members of the same family, cf. Mal 2:10; Matt 23:9.
Bible Reading: Lk 10:25-37; 1Cor 13; Eph 5:21-33; 1Jn 4:7-21.
Thought for today: Love your God and your neighbour.
Let us pray: Lord, help my effort to love you and my neighbour as I ought – Amen.
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