CATHEDRAL OF ST. HELENA

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  • Deacon Bob Fishman

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

As a Jewish convert to the Faith, I absolutely love this week’s readings. Let me tell you why. In our first reading from Deuteronomy, we have what is known in Hebrew as the “Shema Y’Israel” prayer. This is one of the highest holy prayers in all of Judaism. The word “Shema” means to Hear, to listen Israel. Notice it does not say “speak Israel”. It is God’s way of telling us to pay attention. “The Lord our God is one”…This is a key point. It goes on to say that “we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, our soul and our strength”.


Our blessed Lord Jesus when asked what are the greatest Commandments, (and remember there were 613 of them given to the Jewish people all based essentially around the Ten Commandments), our Lord sums up all of the Commandments in just two. He tells us to love God as stated above, and then tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is true Jewish mysticism at its best as it sums up all of the Commandments. If you look seriously at the Ten Commandments you will see that they are divided into two categories. The first three Commandments deal with our relationship to God. The final seven deal with how we treat each other. Therefore our Lord sums it all up for us and challenges us to live these out. This is easier said than done. I know in my own life I often fall short when it comes to my prayer life and going deeper in my walk with the almighty. I also know that I could do more to help the poor and to treat all people with more compassion. That is why these readings are so important. Do not let them go in one ear and out the other. Jesus is challenging us to look deeper.

How can we improve our relationship with God first, and then how do we really treat others? It is definitely something to think about. So this week, I challenge all of you and myself as well to look for ways to pray more, to give thanks, to help someone else, and most of all to take some time and “Listen, to Hear” the voice of God in the stillness of our souls. If we do this, we too will be close to the Kingdom of God like the man in today’s Gospel. Something to think about…May God richly bless you always…


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