October 31, 2021: Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel – Mark 12:28b-34
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” 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.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ 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.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
This month, we have had two gospels that concern the commandments and what one needs to do to inherit eternal life. In the gospel read on October 10, Jesus spoke of the commandments – the “shall nots” that were given to Moses during the Exodus. In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks of the “shall’s” – “You shall love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength … and your neighbor as yourself.” How should we think about these two ways of being and living?
Father Richard Rohr and other spiritual teachers remind us that we need a reliance on a morality code such as the Ten Commandments in our early years to set us on a path of correct living. But as we mature, he states, “We need to undergo a radical transformation to the mind and heart of God.” And the mind and heart of God is all about love. When we become aware of this love that God has planted within us and act on it, living according to a moral code just naturally happens.
The practice of a daily examen – a prayerful review of our day – is a good discipline to help in our spiritual transformation. Examine the feelings of joy, sadness, boredom, excitement, etc., that occurred during the day. What is God showing me and wanting me to attend to in my life? Where might we have missed living the love of God and neighbor?