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Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

Knowing and Doing

Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

Today’s Gospel shows Jesus as fully part of Israel’s Covenant tradition: he responds to the scribe’s question by proclaiming Deuteronomy’s Shema which both of them would have reverenced and recited since childhood: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore you shall love the Lord, your God, Or with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4—-5).

But note the “editorial changes” both Jesus and the scribe make to the Shema. To Deuteronomy’s heart, the Biblical seat of the will and affections, and soul, the deepest part of the human person, and strength, encompassing both physical ability and material treasure, Jesus adds “with all your mind,” a phrase the scribe changes to “with all your understanding” (Mark 12:30, 33). Perhaps Mark, the author of today’s Gospel, wanted to consecrate to the kingdom’s service the philosophical reflection and intellectual exploration so valued by the Greco-Roman world—and our world—in which the Gospel would be preached.

Jesus makes a further change to Israel’s Shema: to the Deuteronomy text Jesus adds Leviticus 19:18: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” For Jesus, these commandments cannot be separated. The scribe, delighted at Jesus’ answer, goes on to indicate that he has grasped one of the central tenets of Jesus’ kingdom: ritual worship and practical charity toward one’s neighbor are twin expressions of love for God. This insight places the scribe “not far from the kingdom of God,” says Jesus (Mark 12:34). But is “not far” close enough? For the scribe, as for the rich would-be disciple from a few Sundays ago, as for each of us, it is one thing to know what we ought to do and quite another actually to do it. So, then: what about us? How do we live out, in daily practice, the covenant whose words we know so well, but whose deeds we so often find a challenge?

Readings for the Week

Monday: Rv 7:2-4, 9-14; Ps 24:1-6; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a
Tuesday: Wis 3:1-9; Ps 23:1-6; Rom 5:5-11 or 6:3-9; Jn 6:37-40, or any readings from no. 668 or from the Masses for
the Dead, nos. 1011-1016
Wednesday: Rom 13:8-10; Ps 112:1b-2, 4-5, 9; Lk 14:25-33
Thursday: Rom 14:7-12; Ps 27:1bcde, 4, 13-14; Lk 15:1-10
Friday: Rom 15:14-21; Ps 98:1-4; Lk 16:1-8
Saturday: Rom 16:3-9, 16, 22-27; Ps 145:2-5, 10-11; Lk 16:9-15
Sunday: 1 Kgs 17:10-16; Ps 146:7-10; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44 [41-44]

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time; Halloween
Monday: All Saints
Tuesday: Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day); Election Day
Wednesday: St. Martin de Porres
Thursday: St. Charles Borromeo
Friday: First Friday
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary; First Saturday