November 4, 2018
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Dt 6:2–6; Heb 7:23–28; Mk 12:28b–34
Today’s first reading recalls the most sacred text in Judaism, the Shema Israel:
“Hear, [O] Israel.” These words are so sacred for Jews, they are prayed in the most
important moments of peril or supreme holiness. Jews don’t take these words lightly
because they express the essence of their religion and relationship to God.
As Catholics, we fully agree with our Jewish brothers and sisters on this matter. Jesus
himself answered the question of what was the first, greatest commandment—it was
the Shema Israel. Why is it so important? Because it declares the unity of God: “The
Lord is our God, the Lord alone!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). He is one supreme God, not a
multitude of divinities as in the Greek and Roman polytheistic religions, or even today
in Hinduism and Buddhism.
This belief in one God makes the monotheistic religions of Judaism and Christianity
unique. Second, this supreme God deserves our love and obedience. “You shall love
the Lord your God.…” Our role as creatures called and saved by him is to offer loving
The Second Commandment flows from the first: If we love God above all, then we
need to love our brothers, sisters, and ourselves.
What better icon is there of this love for God and neighbor than the love of a mother
for her child? Our love should be reverent, tender, compassionate, and unique. Only you
can give him your kind of love. There should be a constant flow of affection and union
between us—no separation between him and us.
—Fr. Mark Haydu, LC