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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Nov. 4, 2012

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

November 4, Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Deuteronomy 6:2-6

Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51

2) Hebrews 7:23-28

Gospel) Mark 12:28b-34

There's a story about a mother driving in the car with her 4-year-old daughter in the back seat. A few miles from home, the child decides she wants to take off her seat belt and stand up. Alarmed at her daughter's risky behavior, the mother immediately begins to cajole and then to threaten her to sit down and fasten her seat belt: "Please sit down, Amy, and put your seat belt on."

"I don't want to."

"I asked you nicely -- now I'm telling you. Sit down."

"But I want to stand up so I can see out the front."

"If you don't sit down right now I'm going to stop this car and you won't like what happens next."

The girl finally sits down. After a long silence, a mutinous voice pipes up from the back seat: "I may be sitting down on the outside, but I'm standing up on the inside!"

It seems rather odd in today's readings that God commands his people to love him unreservedly. It's difficult to make people do something they don't want to do, and harder still to mandate that they feel something they don't necessarily feel. Nevertheless, Moses dutifully relays God's instruction to the children of Israel prior to their entering the Promised Land.

What follows is the mandate to love the Lord God completely. God wants his people to prosper in the land for generations to come, but he is already quite familiar with their willful tendencies. To love God wholeheartedly doesn't mean to conjure up tender feelings of affection. It means first of all to listen to God's instructions and then to obey them.

In the Gospel, Jesus extends the central law of love to include one's neighbor. If the same principle holds true, then loving one's fellow human being implies obedience to God's commandment, even -- or especially -- when the love isn't felt. For sinful people like you and me, practicing that kind of love consistently is not only difficult -- it's impossible.

Thankfully, God doesn't use coercion to produce the love he desires from us. God has already demonstrated it through the self-sacrifice of our high priest Jesus, whose loving and obedient action continues to empower and encourage us to persevere in love -- both on the outside and on the inside -- when we fail.


Is there an area of your life in which you know God's commandment but have stubbornly resisted obeying him? Whom is God asking you, with his help, to love unselfishly?


"Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength." -- Deuteronomy 6:5


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