In his response to the scribe, Jesus acknowledges what every good Jew of his time believed. The first commandment demands that we love God with no holds barred, including as Jesus adds with our entire mind. And in addition to loving God, one must love oneís neighbor as oneself, a real challenge to people of every age.
The scribe, obviously a wise man, agrees that these loves are worth more than burnt offerings and sacrifices. In other words, faith without deeds is not fulfilling the great commandment.
On this Sunday preceding the general election in the United States, it would not be inappropriate to remind the congregation of the importance of their vote and the need to consider the needs of all citizens when they vote.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time not so very long ago, a new pastor was assigned to a parish that was quite divided over the issue of what it means to be a good Christian. One faction was very upset with the previous pastor who did not, in their opinion, give enough vocal support to every pronouncement that came from Rome and who spent way too much time encouraging parishioners to consider issues of social justice. In addition this group wanted at least one Mass a Sunday in Latin and wanted the pastor to preach about the evils of birth control and divorce, forbidding the sacraments, including Christian burial, to those known to be sinning in those matters.
The other faction was also upset with the previous pastor because they thought he didnít go far enough on issues of social justice and spent far too much time encouraging people to pray and meditate and to follow the example of Mary.
Representatives of both factions were constantly coming to the rectory to register their complaints. After one knock down drag out session with representatives of both factions, the new pastor wearily wandered into the reception area of the rectory.
The teenage girl who answered the phone looked at him sympathetically (because, of course, she had heard much of the shouting match he had just endured) and said, "You know Father, my grandpa always says, "Love God and love your neighbor. Thatís what itís all about."
The pastor smiled, thinking wouldnít it be great to have her give the homily one Sunday!
1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
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Catholics and the Struggle with Their Church
The survey of the archdiocese, which Father Greeley describes as "a very complicated place" demographically, asks some difficult questions, and finds some interesting truths.
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