This Sunday the Thirty First Sunday of Ordinary time, provides those preparing the liturgy something of a conundrum – namely, do we choose readings specific to Mission Sunday, or do stay with the readings set down for the Sunday? (of course, in truth, any reading chosen is a reading about Mission!)
The Gospel for Sunday, 31st is from Mark (12:28 – 34).
In this Gospel Jesus is asked, ‘which commandment is first.’
A question, in fact, that at the time was quite pointed.
It required of Jesus a response that meant that he knew both his Torah (the First Testament which we call “Old”) and that he had been properly taught by his parents.
In the Torah there were some 600+ commandments, however, one, known as the Shema was preeminent and was recited morning and evening and still is to this day by Orthodox Jews “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Mary and Joseph had indeed taught him well.
There is little doubt that Jesus would have prayed this prayer with his Mum and Dad (remember those nights on your knees in the front room praying the Rosary).
However, Jesus goes on to add, “you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Where did he learn this?
Remember all those add-ons after the Rosary had finished, were in fact of equal importance.
The two became one, as Jesus says, ‘there is no other commandment (singular) greater than these (plural).
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (1907 –1991) was a Spanish priest who served as the 28th Superior General of the Society Of Jesus (Jesuits) from 1965 to 1983.
One of his mottos suggest to me he had spent quite a deal of time on his knees in the front room of a certain residence in a small village by the name of Nazareth.
Arrupe writes, “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is than falling in love in a quite absolute final way.
“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
“It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
“Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”