Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
National Vocations Week
Readings of the DayRB: Ch 28 The Treatment of Those Who RelapseMass: Dt 6:2-6; Resp Ps 18; Heb 7:23-28; Mk 12:28b-34
He is the One and there is no other than he.
In recent days, I have been reflecting on what are the best aspects of Cistercian life. I came up with a list and decided that I could not rank the items - they are all related and important parts of the life; all making the way of life fulfilling and life-giving. In keeping with the theme of today's Gospel where one of the scribes questions Jesus, asking which is the first of all the commandments, I focus on only three aspects of Cistercian life, what I call three essential opportunities for learning which are key for a community to live a healthy life: the opportunity to learn to love and be loved; the opportunity to learn to forgive and be forgiven; the opportunity to learn to serve and be served.
Jesus answers the inquisitive scribe with these words: 'The first is this: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' Jesus continues with the second greatest commandment: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' In today's Angelus address, the Holy Father summarizes these great commandments: 'To love God is to live by Him and for Him, for what He is and for what He does.' He elaborates: 'to invest one's energies every day to be his collaborators in serving our neighbour without reserve, in trying to forgive without limits and in cultivating relationships of communion and fraternity.' This is another way to describe the essential opportunities for learning in any Christian community. I see them as ways in which to learn because loving, forgiving, and serving do not come without challenges - we learn them as we grow in spiritual maturity. The challenges often present themselves in the people we are called to love, forgive, and serve. Pope Francis has this to say as he points out the way in which Mark the Evangelist presents the Gospel. Mark, the pope commented, 'does not bother to specify who the neighbour is …' it is 'not a question of pre-selecting my neighbour, but of having eyes to see him and a heart to love him.'
How true it is that we are called to love, forgive, and serve without exception, without reserve. That's what Jesus did when He walked the earth, that is what He does now. If we are going to 'live by Him and for Him, for what He is and for what He does'; if we are to be the Lord's 'collaborators', then we must be about the same thing, namely, expending our energy in loving, forgiving, and serving.
Our prayer for today and for each day this week may be with the words of 'Humbly, Lord, We Worship You', a hymn sung this morning at St John the Evangelist parish in Carmichael, CA:Humbly, Lord, we worship you, our Eternal King.You who died to give us life, hear us as we sing.Jesus, God and Lord of all, come to us, we pray.That united in your love, may we live this day.Jesus, Lord, we offer you ev'ry act this day.May we live our love for you and your will obey.Jesus, God and Lord of all, come to us, we pray.That united in your love, may we live this day.Lord, forgive us all our faults, others we forgive.May we strive with all our souls, Christian lives to live.Jesus, God and Lord of all, come to us, we pray.That united in your love, may we live this day.May we love you in each soul and each soul in you;One in our eternal goal, one in all we do.Jesus, God and Lord of all, come to us, we pray.That united in your love, may we live this day.
What follows are three proclamations used during our celebration of the Divine Office at Redwoods:It is for this that we came into the world-this communion and transcendence. We do not become fully human until we give ourselves to each other in love.
(Thomas Merton)Since God first loved us, love is no longer a mere 'command'; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws us near.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 1) Love is the fountain of life, and the soul which does not drink from it cannot be called alive.
(Bernard of Clairvaux)
And a favorite line from Pope Benedict XVI:
Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 18)