In the readings for Sunday, Nov. 4, we’re reminded that we can’t skimp on our relationship with God. God gives us everything, and we give everything we have back to God.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.
I love you, Lord, my strength.
Jesus, because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away.
“‘… to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Throughout divine revelation there is a consistency of message regarding the connection between our love for God and our love for neighbor that we see clearly in today’s readings. The first reading is from Deuteronomy, a book of Jewish Law. Not Jewish recommendations, but required, binding law that governed people’s ability to be in right relationship with God.
It says that if I am going to love God, it has to be with my whole self — not just a chunk of my heart, or a corner of my intellect — but with my whole being. It has to be everything that I am, and everything that I do. And what shall I do? Justice. And what is justice? According to the entire law and prophets, it’s to care for the widows, orphans and aliens: to love my neighbor.
Our second reading is a follow up of last week’s second reading, and illustrates the difference between what we heard of the human priesthood and Jesus’ priesthood. It can also invite us to reflect on what happens when our priests act “in persona Christi,” which is that the man is put aside, and Jesus, working through him, offers the sacrifice of the Mass himself. What we celebrate and what we receive is perfection, because Jesus, our high priest, does it himself. Of course, there’s no accounting for the homilies … (just kidding!).
Jesus quotes our first reading in the Gospel story when a scribe asks him what the greatest commandment is. Jesus adds, and the scribe agrees, that the way to live out that commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. The scribe, in a very rare moment, praises Jesus for his wisdom — usually these guys are trying to trap him. But this man answers with understanding — not just information like the others. The law is in this man’s heart. Therefore, Jesus declares him “not far from the kingdom of God.”
Jesus tells us to love our neighbors. Who are your neighbors?
Do you love God with your whole being? What do you hold back, if anything?
What is the difference between having information and having understanding? Why do you think Jesus said that the scribe had understanding?
Figure out ways to love God with your whole mind, whole heart, and whole strength this week. Do it. This could mean doing your very best in school (your whole mind); doing something kind or making a card for someone who needs to know that they’re loved (whole heart); helping someone with chores (whole strength). What else could you do?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”