October 30-31: Preparing for Sunday’s Mass

The scribe in Mark 12, 28-34 approaches Jesus wanting to know the one thing he needed to focus on to achieve eternal happiness. And Jesus gives him an answer. “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall 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 shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus saw that the scribe listened with understanding and told him that he was “not far” from the Kingdom of God. This passage offers us a haunting question this weekend: how far are we from the Kingdom of God? Do we treat God like an application on our phone … or is God our operating system for which all our “applications” find their meaning?

What would it look like this week if each of us sincerely put all our heart, soul, mind, and strength into loving God and the people around us? If we all did this, what would our world look like?


An Aboriginal Australian once said to a Christian missionary: “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But it you have come because your liberation and freedom are bound up with mine, then let us work together.”


Let us pray. “Lord, it is fairly easy to help our neighbors, to give things that are left over and that we no longer need, even to put ourselves to some trouble so that they may have something to eat and clothes to wear. But your Commandment calls us to go further and to love our neighbor as ourselves, to experience that we need them as they need us, that when we forgive them it is our own sins that we forgive, and when we have compassion for them it is because we ourselves need compassion. We place all of our needs before you, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.”


Bonus: As we prepare for Mass this weekend, we would do well to note how Jesus receives the scribe in the Gospel. Usually scribes and Pharisees are presented in the Gospels as hostile to Jesus. It would be natural, therefore, for Jesus to be on the defensive, to react negatively. But Jesus always takes the person as he or she is. He does not indulge in stereotyping about “typical scribes and Pharisees” and painting all with the same brush. We, however, do this so easily with classes, races, age groups (teenagers, older people) don’t we? We use so many labels. We even stereotype people we know before they have opened their mouths, based on our previous experience with them. Jesus, though, accepts and responds to the scribe as he is. The Master continues to teach us: He gives us an example which we can all follow … and which would save a lot of wear and tear in our relations with people, if we did so.

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