Sunday 4 November 2018

Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Responsorial Psalm 18: 1-3, 6, 46, 50 Response 1
Second Reading Hebrews 7:23-38
Gospel Mark 12:28-34

Last weekend I was away and was able to visit two different parishes in the neighbouring diocese, the Diocese of London. The two churches I visited on Saturday evening for the Solemnity mass and Sunday morning were very different architecturally. But both were about 65% full for mass, and a good mix of ages. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Mount Carmel Ontario, and St. Peter’s in Zurich Ontario. It was interesting visiting different parishes and partaking with those communities. But I am looking forward to being back at Saint Agnes this weekend.

What does my travels and visiting parishes have to do with a reflection on this week’s readings. It ties to the focus on community. In the first reading it is the community of Israelites as they prepare to enter the promised land. In the second reading it is the letter written to the Hebrew believers in the way, and those living under the new eternal high priest in Jesus Christ. And the Gospel is the summary of the 10 commandments and a huge part of our calling as Christians. Now let’s examine some specific sections of text.

In our first reading Moses is speaking to the Israelites and he states:

“May you and your children and your children’s children fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you so that your days may be long. 

Hear therefore, O Israel, and observer them diligently, so tat it may go well with you, …”

This passage focuses on the generation promises and generation responsibilities. Both for the whole people of Israel, but also for each tribe, clan, and family. When I pray over my children before bed part of the prayer, is often, almost always along the lines of:

“Help them to grow to become the person you are calling them to be. Help them to grow in you and your ways. And may they follow you all the days of their lives.”

When I first started praying over my children before bed. My oldest after a few weeks asked me why I did it. I told her I have prayed for them since we found out we were expecting, and I would pray for them as long as I breath. And that I was just now praying with them so that they would know I pray for them.

The response this week is:

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.”

God truly is my strength, I look back at who I was 5, 10, 15, and even 30 years ago and see how far God has brought me. When I was a live on-site director at a Christian camp a few years back during an ice breaker exercise one of the guys in describing himself stated: ‘I live just shy of jerk!’. Looking back at who I was I could say I mostly lived just over that edge. And I often am honest with my children about the mistakes I made with family, school mates, friends, as examples to try and help them not make the mistakes I made. 

And then we come to the gospel, Jesus in being asked what the most important commandment is responds:

“The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord Your God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Last month my son and I watched a documentary about Mister Rogers, called ‘Wont You be My Neighbour.’ Liam was fascinated with the show, and we started recording Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood on the PVR. All three children have been enjoying watching the show. And it has led to several discussions. Discussions about who is neighbour. How do we treat people, especially people who are different? And this passage reminds us that we need love God, and through our relationship with god, we can be better at loving and serving others. They are in the order they are for a reason. 

And my prayer for you this week would be that you get a new glimpse into ‘neighbour’, ‘neighbourly’, and even ‘neighbourhood’. And that you will encounter other, both God as other, and people as other in a new and significant way this week. And as always, I covet your prayers, for me, and for my family.

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