Thirty First Sunday Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Deut 6:2-6; Heb -28; Mk 12:28-34
Love of God and love of neighbor underline the central message of this Sunday. The readings focus our attention on evangelization, the fourth sign of a dynamic Catholic that points to the best way to live. The best way to live is founded on the Commandment of love of God and love of neighbour as Jesus teaches (cf. Mt. 22:37-39). In Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, Matthew Kelly proposes three compelling principles that guide human beings on the path to the best way to live. 1) You are created to be the best version of yourself. In the Sermon on the Mountain Jesus teaches his disciples saying, “So be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) Evangelization leads people on a path to perfection; to being the best version of themselves. 2) A virtuous life is better than a life of vice. Evangelization leads people to embrace a life of virtue and character. It is unthinkable to imagine a marriage, family, state or nation where vice reigns supreme: pride, greed, envy, anger, lust and gluttony. 3) It is better to live with self-control than to live without it. It is unthinkable to imagine a person, a marriage, a family, a state or nation without self-discipline. That would be anarchy. In the Gospel Jesus quotes from Leviticus to reminds us that our love of God is inseparable from our love of neighbour. God makes us participants in his divine life on condition that we love our neighbour. When we live the two commandments, then like the scribe in the Gospel we are not far from the kingdom of God. In other words, in loving others as we love ourselves, we clearly show that we love God whom we see in our neighbor.
In the gospel, a learned scribe asks Jesus to identify the first commandment of the law. Jesus does not offer one commandment, but two: 1) “You shall love the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:5); and 2) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus in this passage teaches that the best way to live is based on these two commandments: love of God and love of neighbour. We can say without doubt that, apart from selfish economic reasons, the failure to love neighbors clearly comes from a life of vice and the lack of self-control leading to the evils and conflicts we see daily on our TV screens. To live a virtuous life with self-control is the best way to live and a wonderful witness to others. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings focus our attention on evangelization, the fourth sign of a dynamic Catholic that leads others to the best way to live. 2) Our love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable and lead us to be the best version of ourselves. 3) We are the best version of ourselves when we see the image and likeness of God in the faces of our brothers and sisters in need.
©2015 John S. Mbinda