Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 152

Jesus replied, “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.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”

     The first commandment was easy as it was on every Jewish persons lips twice daily.Shema Yisrael , Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone. The Shema was prayed twice a day and was placed in the door step of every Jewish home.One God,and the relationship between this one God and his people defined them.The Shema perfectly summarised this relationship. The second though was not as simply stated. “You shall love your neighbor as your self” is not as simply stated in Jewish prayer. It can be interpreted through Jewish commandments, but there are 613 of those; Yet love your neighbor as yourself is part of Jewish culture, and many of the 613 laws do deal with mans relationship with their neighbors.Some examples from the 613 laws are:

To emulate His ways (Deut. 28:9), To cleave to those who know Him (Deut. 10:20), To love Jews (Lev. 19:18), To love converts (Deut. 10:19), Not to hate fellow Jews (Lev. 19:17), Not to embarrass others (Lev. 19:17), Not to oppress the weak (Ex. 21:22), Not to speak derogatorily of others (Lev. 19:16), Not to take revenge (Lev. 19:18), Not to bear a grudge (Lev. 19:18)

 For Jesus though “love your neighbor as yourself” is pared with Shema Israel, Israels defining prayer; and the combination of these two commands are the basis of his whole ministry. Two commandments are the two beams of the cross with the vertical emphasising the relationship between God and man, and the horizontal as man reaching out across the horizon towards his brothers.As for the rest of the commandments, many are related to these two while others have to do with dietary laws, temple practices,rituals and symbols that helped define Jewish people. Many of these Jesus did not hold the same value to. Perhaps they either were seen as a distraction from these two commands, or possibly it was because they were cause for division between neighbors.Perhaps also, the other commandments made little sense unless they were interpreted against a standard of  the Shema and love of neighbor. If a commandment did not strengthen the bond between God and Man, or between neighbor; what purpose did it serve? Interpreting Jewish law in the first centrury also could be an arduious task, as that Scribe Jesus spoke with must have known. Interpretation required the assistance of an expert scholar versed in the law. The Scribe as a writer of law quickly noticed Jesus’s wisdom and understanding of the law.613 laws combined to two describing one God and one Kingdom. Love of God and Love of Neighbor. That Scribes job suddenly became much easier!

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