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31st Sunday

31st Sunday

 

Dear OLPH Family and friends,

It is a challenge to begin this month with the feast of All Saints.  Our role as saints in Christ’s body is not only recognized, the feast reminds us of what we are expected to do to merit and maintain that saintly title. Our first reading and the Gospel for this Sunday follow through with the same theme. Both Deuteronomy’s Moses and Mark’s Jesus insist their disciples follow through on the command:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  But Jesus intertwines it with the Leviticus 19:18 demand; “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

As we near the end of the liturgical year, the readings will point our thoughts toward ultimate things.  This can be a healthy corrective to our usual tendency to focus only on the immediate future and our immediate goals.  Without being morbid, indeed some would say practical, we realize that death makes everything else relative.  Many things that seemed so important fade into insignificance as death approaches.

Today’s readings offer the key perspective on life, whether we are young and vital or older and more conscious of the end of life.  The first reading, the great “Shema, Israel” from Deuteronomy reminds us that God must be central in our lives and our loves. The Gospel repeats that point and adds the reminder that love of neighbor is intimately connected to love of God.  The second reading reminds us that 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.”

The readings call us to listen to the word of “God that makes clear the new law of love.  Rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures and confirmed in these readings, the commandment that matters most is to love God and to love one another.  There is no need for ritual sacrifice but instead we are called to carefully make God’s love the center of our lives.

May God bless, preserve and keep you!

Fr. Ron