The Thirty First Sunday of Ordinary Time -B
Today’s exchange between Jesus and the surprisingly friendly scribe holds a true treasure for us. It is all about love.
A critical point as we encounter this dialogue is the importance of listening. God has spoken. Our absolutely essential response is to listen. Thomas Merton, the great spiritual teacher of the last century offers us a guide to this necessary task of listening. He defines prayer as “Yearning for the presence of God, knowledge of God’s will and understanding of God’s word, and the capacity to hear and obey.”
This call to “hear and obey” helps us understand that all good loving begins with listening.
The foundation of this encounter of listening to God is this. God has loved us first. The scriptures are a singular testament to this divine initiative. The fullness of this love has been God’s Word revealed in Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen.
As we listen to God, we need to keep the eyes of our heart on Jesus so we can“hear and obey.”
It is interesting that the Hebrew word at the beginning of scriptural passage that Jesus quotes, “Hear, O Israel”, means not only hear and but also to obey. Our listening to God in Jesus calls us deeper into the mystery of God’s love. This love always overflows into our sharing in God’s love for our brothers and sisters.
Listening to Jesus will lead us to hear his voice in the cry of the poor. It will lead us to the continual struggle for justice and peace. It will draw us to the necessary reconciliation in family, personal relations and in the community that will pull us closer to the Kingdom of God where love has the final say.
Today’s Gospel helps us pass through and beyond the law and all its “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt nots.” We are called into the love of God and love of neighbor which is the ultimate expression and source of the law.