Time is rushing us into the month of November, dedicated as the month of the Holy Souls. Our yearly Mass of Remembrance for our families who lost loved ones this past year will be next Sunday, November 5 at the 12 Noon Mass. It is a special opportunity to pray for those who have gone before us marked with the sign of Faith, as is November 2, the feast of All Souls.
The month begins of course with the solemn feast of All Saints. An opportunity to recall that we are all called to holiness of life and that untold numbers of our predecessors have reached the eternal blessedness of seeing God face to face in heaven. This is our goal and the focus of our lives.
Matthew’s Gospel this week continues to highlight the tension between the religious leaders and Jesus. A scholar asks the question, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” With over 600 laws, it is a question that was asked often and the answers differed greatly. Jesus is succinct, focused. He goes to the heart of it all. Love God above all else is the greatest, and the second, love your neighbor as yourself, is intertwined with it. Jesus sums up the law and the prophets, giving us a guide by which we can live our lives in a complex and confusing world.
As we know, the leaders continue to seek ways to entrap Jesus for they have closed their hearts to Him and to this new work of God for redemption. But the Gospel passage is not just about them or for them. It is for us as well. Have we closed our hearts to Jesus? Have we allowed the things of life to get in the way? Do we give more time to things, our computers, smart phones, houses, cars, power, money, whatever? Where is our heart? How often do we pray? How often do we help others? Is Jesus the Lord of my life? Do I feel empty? Are my longings unfulfilled? Do I lack peace in this frenetic world?
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. …You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Simple, focused, direct, right at the heart of everything. With God’s grace, all we need to do is do it.