With all your Heart

Reflection for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Director of Creation Care Advocacy, Sr. Louise Lears, SC

This reflection was originally posted in our October 25th newsletter

Image by 2023852 from Pixabay

In our Gospel passage for this Sunday, we read that a scribe steps out of the crowd and poses this question to Jesus: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” At times, the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus a question in order to trap him. But let’s imagine that this scribe, a student of the law, is asking an honest question. After all, there are 613 laws recorded in the Torah. It would certainly be easier if one commandment explained or superseded all the others.

Jesus responds to the scribe by quoting two different passages from Scripture, passages that would have been familiar to many in the crowd. The first, from Deuteronomy 6:4, is recited by the Jewish faithful every morning and evening: “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 scribe may well have been satisfied with this response. He might have even stepped back into the crowd, thinking Jesus had finished. But Jesus surprises everyone by adding a second commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Jesus did not invent this second commandment; he took it from Leviticus 19:18. Placing these two commandments together is one of the major innovations of Jesus’ teachings. Love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable, two sides of the same coin.

Jesus’s message is clear: love, not obligation, must always be the motivation behind following God’s commandments. This love, which requires all our heart and soul and mind and strength, must tend together and inseparably toward God and neighbor. Love urges us to look upon others not only with our own eyes but also with the gaze of God, which is the gaze of Jesus. As long as there is a sister or brother to whom we close our hearts, we still have work to do.

Sr. Louise Lears, SC
FAN Director of Creation Care Advocacy

Published in: on October 26, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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