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Bulletin: November 4, 2018

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings try to answer the question, “What must I do to be successful?” The readings begin with just one commandment: Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your strength. The psalm extolls God’s strength and protection, giving us lots of reasons to love God. The Letter to the Hebrews once again contrasts the perfection of Christ as priest with the weakness of the other priests. Mark reminds us of the first commandment and adds a second element to it. We must not only love God but we must love our neighbor as ourselves. Mark does not provide a lot of details, just the simple understanding that to love God with your whole self and your neighbor as yourself is worth more than any other sacrifice.


The readings are fairly simple and straightforward. Do just these two things—love God with your whole self and love your neighbor as yourself—and you will be saved. Deuteronomy and the psalm emphasize the importance of loving God with our whole selves. Hebrews reminds us that Jesus loved us as he loved his Father and so he offered himself for our sins. Mark says that loving God completely must also be accompanied by loving our neighbor. Jesus loved his Father with his whole soul, his whole mind, his whole strength. The love between God and Jesus makes them one. Everything hinges on the completeness and the inclusiveness of that love.


We all love rules to measure our actions and assure us that we have done enough. Today we are given two rules that offer us none of that. These rules require us to focus only on love: love of God and love of neighbor. There are not seven or ten. There are just two. You must love God but you must do it with your entire being. Everything you are must be focused on and reflect loving God. And then you must love your neighbor. The first is key to the second.

Unless we understand how God loves both the lovable as well as the unlovable, we will never be able to love ourselves or any other creature or creation as God loves them all. The Gospels remind us that Jesus sought the broken, the marginalized, the unwanted to teach us how God loves. If everything about you is about loving a God who created and redeemed you, then you love as God loves. If you love as God loves, you recognize the weakness in yourself and in the world yet you still love that broken self and broken world as its Creator does. That is the only measure of success that matters.

Today’s Readings: Dt 6:2–6; Ps 18:2–3, 3–4, 47, 51; Heb 7:23–28; Mk 12:28b–34

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