Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

In the seasons in which we have many activities to attend, making lists of things to do is something good and even useful, however is not acceptable if we don’t know we are going in our relationship with our Lord, so today’s Gospel provides us with an aid to feeling in harmony with God. Jesus recites the beautiful Shema Israel[1], a great invitation to love our God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength[2].

Many times we feel like we have lost our integrity, our unity of spirit. There are times that we feel like we are two persons, or even several persons, like fragmented… When we are in Church we feel the presence of the Lord within ourselves, then we leave the Church and get into a fight with someone in the parking lot, or in the car, or in our family, or with a neighbor…

God and our own spirituality call us to be one person, totally committed to Him in every aspect of our lives. He said that we are to love him with all our hearts, all minds, all souls and all our strength.

Why wee feel living two lives or being two different persons? Well, most of the time this is because they we are in relationships that destroys our integrity, relationships where God is not found… the point is that we have to direct our minds to the Lord. Our faith is not a matter of children’s stories. If we don’t allow our minds to grow with an adult understanding of our faith, then we lack the tools to integrate our faith with our lives.

For example, if our understanding of the world is simply the creation stories of Genesis, then how are we to integrate the advancements of science with our faith?  But if we study our faith, we learn the depth of our belief; we then understand how the greatest minds the world has ever produced have been people of profound faith. St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas were the Albert Eiensteins of their days. Our present Holy Father, Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, is one of the great minds of our time, as also was his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II.  We Catholics are not creationists nor do we believe in intelligent design.

We are to give God our whole bodies, all our strength and God wants all of our souls.  It is great that we celebrate Mass together. It is great that we receive the nourishment of the Eucharist.  But our spiritual lives cannot end when we leave the Church. We need to keep the fire of God’s love burning through prayers in the morning, evening and throughout the day, even it is simply grace before meals

Shema Israel. We love the Lord in a way that our mind, heart, soul and body, merge together to form one whole person. That is integrity.

And what about that second commandment Love your neighbor as yourself?[3] Well, this depends on the way we feel about ourselves. If we are disjointed, if our mind and heart are at war, then we are going to transfer our dissatisfaction to others, but if we are integral, whole, sincere, then we will embrace others with the respect we give to ourselves…

People join all sorts of cults to find peace. They climb mountains to hear words of wisdom from masters in spirituality... All we need to know is given to us in today’s Gospel. Peace comes from loving God with every aspect of our humanity, and then serving His Presence in others…

Jesus Christ has given and continually gives us all we will ever require. He gives us Himself. He then calls us to make him present for others. Our prayer this morning is may the peace of Christ within us animate our lives, and empower us to reach out to Him in others ■

[1] Shema Yisrael (or Sh'ma Yisrael) (Hebrew: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל‎; "Hear, [O] Israel") are the first two words of a section of the Torah, and are the title (sometimes shortened to simply "Shema") of a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. The first verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is one," found in Deuteronomy 6:4. Observant Jews consider the Shema to be the most important part of the prayer service in Judaism, and its twice-daily recitation as a mitzvah (religious commandment). It is traditional for Jews to say the Shema as their last words, and for parents to teach their children to say it before they go to sleep at night.
[2] Cf Deuteronomy 6:4.
[3] Lev 19:18.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris