YEAR B: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: IMAGO DEI – IMAGE OF GOD
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
First reading – Deut. 6:2-6
Second reading – Heb. 7:23-28
Gospel – Mk. 12:28-34
To the question about which is the greatest commandment, Jesus answered “Listen Israel: Yahweh our God is the one Yahweh. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength” This was the content of a prayer of the Jews called the Shema. The Shema was – found (as we heard in the first reading) Deut. 6:4. It was a prayer the Jews said two times daily, yet, they did not grasp the depth of its meaning. And Jesus also adds the love of our neighbor to his answers.
The love of God, as given above, demand a totality of our whole being without any reservation. A lot of us have some restricted areas of our lives where we would not like the Love of God to shed its light upon. For it to have been included that we shall love God “with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength” means a total surrender of all that we are. I would also add here that we have to express our love of God with all our titles, our professions, our wealth. The fact is that in the lives of many are found today expressions that depict: “God I give you everything except …” I give you everything but this my business, God take all except this or that”. What is your own exception? St James warns that to keep the whole commandments and be guilty in one is to be guilty of all (James 2:10). Our hymn today shall be I surrender all.
The love of our neighbor here does not mean an additional commandment. It tells us a way by which we can love God whom we have never seen. God is spirit and cannot be seen. But we know that He created man in His own image. It presupposes that we see God in our neighbor. One of the mysteries of the Incarnation is for us to understand the Love of God. Our love for God must be manifested through the love we have for our neighbor, whereas the love we show our neighbor must come from the love we have for God. They are concomitantly interwoven. St John articulated this better thus: “Anyone who says “I love God”, and hates his brother is a liar; since a man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen….” 1 Jn 4:20-21
John Rose once told this story. Just before Christmas, a little boy was wandering through a shopping complex and admiring the colorful displays of the Christmas gifts. A lady who watched him moving from one shop to another had guessed right that the lad had no money with which to make any purchase. She took the boy into one of the shops, and taking him round, she began explaining to him the meaning of Christmas. “God loves us”, she said “and to save us from our sins, He was born in a manger as a little babe.” She then bought a pair of new dress shoes, along with some Christmas gifts and lick- ups and refreshments for the poor lad. The little boy was thrilled. As the lady led him out of the shop, he looked at her and asked her, “Are you God?” “Oh No,” she replied” “I am only one of His children”. “Ah! Said the boy, “I knew that somehow you were related to him” The poor boy could not have got the story very well if the lady had not followed up with practical love of neighbor. The little boy saw the image of God in the lady. Whose image would those who encounter you see in you?
OUR SONG TODAY
1. All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give; I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
2. All to Jesus I surrender; humbly at his feet I bow, worldly pleasures all forsaken; take me, Jesus, take me now. (Refrain)
3. All to Jesus I surrender; make me, Savior, wholly thine; fill me with thy love and power; truly know that thou art mine. (Refrain)
4. All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to thee; fill me with thy love and power; let thy blessing fall on me. (Refrain)
5. All to Jesus I surrender; now I feel the sacred flame. O the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory, to his name! (Refrain)