Date: Sunday, November 04, 2018
31st Sunday Ordinary Time B
Can one command love? Parents know children are more expressive of their love for Mom and Dad and less so as teens. When a scribe asks Jesus about the greatest commandment Jesus cites love of God (Deuteronomy) and love of neighbor (Leviticus). For us, love is a matter of the heart, romantic and passionate. It can apply to an object when one says I love chocolate. But in the Bible and for Jesus love means loyalty! Love is the loyalty that Jesus has with God the Father. Love is the loyalty or covenant bond between God and the Jewish people. Love is the loyalty or glue that holds the Jewish family and nation together as kin and neighbor.
Jesus introduces the greatest commandment(s) with the prayer “Hear, O Israel!” – the Sema. It is the daily prayer of Jews. Listening is essential in our relationship with God who desires to communicate with us. When the Scribe receives God’s Word from Jesus with understanding, Jesus observes: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” We express our faith in prayer and at worship, but true or authentic religion involves listening, conversion and faithful love.
A week ago, on Friday, Jewish people were murdered in a synagogue in Pittsburg, Pa. On Thursday, this week, a synagogue in Brooklyn was defaced with hateful scribble: “Jews better be ready” and “Hitler.” All religious people should be offended and outraged. Jewish people are our neighbors in the faith. Jesus is Jewish.
God, full of mercy, who dwells in the heights, provide a sure rest upon the wings of the Divine Presence, within the range of the holy, pure and glorious, whose shining resemble the sky’s, to the soul of (Hebrew name of deceased) son of (Hebrew name of his father) for a charity was given to the memory of his soul. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect him forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and will tie his soul with the rope of life. The Everlasting is his heritage, and he shall rest peacefully upon his lying place, and let us say: Amen.
The Jewish Prayer for the Dead is a lesser-known prayer called