"WHAT IS IT THAT GOD REALLY WANTS US TO DO TO PLEASE HIM?"
Reflection on the readings of the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Was the scribe serious when he asked Jesus what was the first of all the commandments? Did he want to know the answer, or was he trying to make Jesus look bad in front everybody? There were 613 laws that Moses gave in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.
The scribe asked a question, "Which of these 613 was the most important?"
For centuries the learned scholars debated this question. And now, standing before one of these scholars, one of the scribes, there is this Jesus, a nobody from Galilee with no formal education, thinking that he could teach the people. The educated scribe could certainly make Jesus look bad, or so he thought. He would use his intelligence to make Jesus look silly. But then Jesus ruined the scribe's attempt. Instead of arguing over the fine points of this or that law, he merely quoted two verses from the Bible, one from the Book of Deuteronomy and one from the Book of Leviticus.
From Deuteronomy the Lord took, " you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength."
And from Leviticus he quoted, "You must love your neighbour as yourself." How could the scribe make fun of that?
There are many times that people confront me, and perhaps you, regarding this or that aspect of our faith. "So, what do you think about this, Father? Or what do you think about that?" You probably have had people challenging you about your Catholicism. They ask, "How come you worship Mary? Why don't you ever read the Bible?" Well, we don't worship Mary, and we do read the Bible, but many times these people are not looking for a serious answer, just an opportunity to discredit us. If instead of getting into a debate, we give them the answer that Jesus gave, well, that changes everything. So we say, "We don't worship Mary, and we do read the Bible, but, you know what, all that matters is the law of Love.
Love God and love others. Everything else flows from that.
We are often overwhelmed by the number of laws we are told to follow. There are state laws, there are rules in families and in schools and in places of work. Added to all these are the Church laws. Certainly we can join the scribe and ask, "What is it that God really wants us to do to please him?" And Jesus says, "It's not so difficult, "Love God; Love Others."
How can we discern what is right and what is wrong? Just apply the law of Love. Love God and Love neighbour. When we do this, life become far less complicated. Today's Gospel concludes by saying that after the people heard what Jesus said to the scribe, no one dared ask him any more questions. All answers to the complications of life are found here: We are to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul and love all those he created in his image as we love that image within ourselves.