Love of Neighbour
Gospel Reflection for 31st Sunday in ordinary time Year B – November 4th 2012
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on our parish website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.
We often ask people what is most important to them in life. Various words come to mind – family, faith, love, peace of mind, money or others. Jesus is asked something like this in the conversation of today’s Gospel. His most important word is love – anything in the religious tradition of the time is secondary to love of God and love of neighbour.
In August 2012 a survey indicated that the Irish are among the least religious people of Europe. This came out of a sample of 1,000 people and indicates something to do with religious understanding and practice. Maybe though we could challenge that by our belief that we are most religious, not necessarily when we are in church or praying, but when we are at our most loving.
True religion is that, and is especially true when it cares for the needy. Much of the scriptures are encouragements to care for people like ‘the widow and the orphan’ who were among the most neglected of people at Jesus’ time and beforehand. His heart went out most to people like that in his own time, especially any group who were outcast like people suffering from leprosy.
The side of the Needy
This can be the same today. He is the one on the side of the needy and most on our side when we are most needy. This is the meaning and the reason for the Christian community – to be bearers of love in our world.
So maybe in Ireland we are much more religious than the survey shows! When we love, in the smallest and biggest ways, among the family, neighbourhood and wider world, then we are religious in the name of Jesus.
Donal Neary SJ