A HOMILY FOR THE THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “B” – 11/4/18 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
In our Gospel today, Jesus takes the Ten Commandments, and really all of the thousands of Jewish laws, that were in the books, by the time that He came along, and He reduces all of God’s law down to the two greatest Commandments: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. This is perhaps the greatest editing job ever done, in the history of mankind, for He sums up the entire Jewish law, in two great commandments. I’m not sure that we even get, how amazing what Jesus is saying today, really is. This is how we get to Heaven. It’s still not easy to do, but it is NOT impossible either. We can live out these commandments!
And in re-doing the commandments, Jesus is bringing together for all of us, our love of God, and uniting it with the love of our neighbor. You get what Jesus is saying, here, right? He’s saying that you cannot say you love God, and NOT love your neighbor. Jesus, God, is forever uniting these two commandments together. Notice, this is Jesus Himself doing this! This is not some Pope in Rome. This is not one of our saints from hundreds of years ago. This is not from the President of the Parish Council, or from the Music Director, or from your friendly, neighborhood pastor. This is not even from Google, or Amazon, or Facebook, or Snap-Chat! This is from God Himself. Love your neighbor as yourself is not a suggestion, it is a command! If you love me, then you will love your neighbor. And who is our neighbor? Well, that’s where it gets even more fun, because for God, our neighbor is every living soul on this planet. You know that Eskimo that you saw on the Discovery Channel, hunting illegally? He’s your neighbor. And you know that woman from Central America that you saw on CNN, who was selling drugs to feed her children, she’s your neighbor also. And that French couple, who you saw on House Hunters International, they’re your neighbors too. In fact, even that person sitting next to you at Mass today, they are your neighbor also. And so we are called to love all of them, all of them! It’s not going to be easy, but it’s not impossible either!
Jesus is not asking a geographical question when He asks us “Who is our neighbor?” Instead, He is asking a theological one. Every human being is our neighbor by virtue of us being made in God’s image. The bottom line is that it comes down to this: we are to love the unlovable. We are to love those who are hard to love, those who have hurt us, and those that we just simply don’t like very much. Clearly, loving our neighbor is not always easy. It requires forgiveness. It demands putting away judgment, and it forces us to reach beyond our own wants and needs to put others first! Are we willing to do that? Well, God says, that if we love Him, we’ve got to be willing to do that. And that same God will give us what we need, to love anybody.
One concrete way that we can both show our love of God AND our love for our brothers and sisters this week, is to pray for more vocations for the Church. This is the National Week of Prayer for Religious Vocations. This week, the entire Church in the United States will be praying for more holy priests, and holy deacons, and holy sisters and holy brothers, to come forward to serve the Church. Let’s make sure this week that we are adding our prayers to that number! There are young people who will never hear God’s call, if we don’t pray that their hearts will be open! This is a very special week of prayer. We pray for courage for all of those who are being called by God, to serve Him in His Church. This week is also the perfect time to mention to a young man or young woman, that you think that they would make an excellent priest, deacon, brother or sister. You have no idea how much your suggestion might just do, or just what good might come out of your invitation. Don’t be afraid. Have faith! Love God and love your brothers and sisters, and may all of us continue to not only pray for more vocations for the Church, but also to work for more vocations for the Church. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few!
+ May God bless us as we strive to live out His two greatest commandments, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!