LOYOLA PRESS A Jesuit Ministry
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God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
November 4, 2012

This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Moses teaches the people to love and worship God alone.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 18:2-3,3-4,47,51
A prayer of praise to God our strength

Second Reading
Hebrews 7:23-28
Jesus intercedes for us as our eternal high priest.

Gospel Reading
Mark 12:28b-34
Jesus is questioned by a scribe about the greatest commandment.

Background on the Gospel Reading

As we continue to read from Mark's Gospel, our Lectionary skips a chapter that helps set the context for today's reading. If we were to read the sections skipped (chapter 11 and part of chapter 12), we would hear about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, his cleansing of the Temple, and the questioning of Jesus' authority by the chief priests, scribes, and elders. The context, therefore, for this Gospel is Jesus' growing exposure before the Jewish authorities. Jesus is being questioned and tested by the Jewish authorities, yet the scribe who addresses Jesus in today's Gospel seems to be an admirer; he is not testing Jesus.

The question posed in today's Gospel requires Jesus to interpret the Law of Moses. The Mosaic Law consists of the Ten Commandments and many additional commandments, numbering into the hundreds. For a devout Jew, adherence to the Mosaic Law is an expression of faithfulness to God's covenant with Israel. The ranking of these commandments was regularly debated among the teachers of the Law.

Jesus was not the only Jewish religious teacher to connect these two commandments, love of God and love of neighbor. Both of these commandments were central elements of the religious tradition that Jesus learned from his Jewish community. Indeed, these commandments continue to be central aspects of contemporary Jewish religious understanding. Jesus' response to his questioners proposed an integral connection between these two aspects of the Jewish Law. Love of God finds its expression in our love for our neighbor. Many believe, however, that this connection was heard in a new and fresh way when spoken by Jesus.

The scribe who questions Jesus in today's Gospel engages in a positive dialogue with Jesus. He agrees with Jesus' teaching that the commandments to love God and love neighbor stand above the commandment to offer worship and sacrifice in the Temple. With this dialogue, Jesus appears to close the debate with the Jewish authorities. Mark reports that no one dared to question Jesus further.




Max Char 500
I use your materials to help me construct an interactive reflection on the readings for communion services in our juvenile hall. They are very helpful and tend to be more relevant to the youth than many other homily resources I see. Thank you.
I'm a Maryknoll missioner in Kitale Kenya. We missioners get together on Saturday evenings and have Lectio Divina. Your commentaries on the Sunday Gospel give us food for reflection and discussion. Asante sana!
Dear Jesus, Come sleep in the boat of my life--rocking and tossed on the waves of fear and uncertainty. My need to be taken care of interrupt my peace. You have invited me out onto the rough waters of foreign mission. I grasp your hand. I want to believe you are sustaining me, but my faith falters so often. Pull me up Lord. Even when I can't walk those waves on my own two legs, I know you will place me on your capable shoulders; just as you did the wandering lamb. Amen.

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