The 31st Sunday of the Year
Dt 6:2-6; Ps 18; Heb 7:23-28; Mk 12:28B-34 (Year B)
In the long history of God’s people, the Book of Deuteronomy brings to its conclusion a period of uncertainty and wandering. The children of Abraham, after many generations as stateless nomads, had been reduced to slavery in Egypt. Through Moses, God’s servant and prophet, their cries of distress had been heard. Moses was to become the instrument of their deliverance, and the Law, entrusted to him, would become their way to life, leading them to the very borders of the Promised Land.
Moses himself, however, would die before entering that land. Thus the Book of Deuteronomy is, in a certain sense, the long farewell of Moses to his people. As the people made ready to enter the “today” of their dawning freedom, Moses exhorted them to remain faithful to what had underpinned God’s saving mercy: “Listen, Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart.”
This exhortation, which has become the thrice daily prayer of every faithful Jew, finds an echo in every faithful heart. Our journey of faith mirrors the experience of God’s people. There will be times when we wander, when we are enslaved in the complexities of a sinful world, and when we long for a safe haven.
In his birth, death and Resurrection, Jesus became the fulfilment of all that Moses had promised. He became the “today” of our longing for freedom and a safe belonging. He became, in himself, our Promised Land.
In his response to the question of the devout scribe, Jesus was revealed as that final prophet, like unto Moses, whom the Father knew face to face. He insisted not only that we love the Father with heart, soul and strength, but that we must love our neighbour as ourselves, too.
Together with the devout scribe, we must confess that this love of God and neighbour is at the very heart of our communion with the Father. “Well spoken, Master, what you have said is true. To love with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.”
May the Holy Spirit enable us to discern what is truly important.
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