4 November 2018
Moses said to the people: ‘If you fear the Lord your God all the days of your life and if you keep all his laws and commandments which I lay on you, you will have a long life, you and your son and your grandson. Listen then, Israel, keep and observe what will make you prosper and give you great increase, as the Lord the God of your fathers has promised you, giving you a land where milk and honey flow.
‘Listen, Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart.’
There used to be a great number of priests under the former covenant, because death put an end to each one of them; but this one, because he remains for ever, can never lose his priesthood. It follows, then, that his power to save is utterly certain, since he is living for ever to intercede for all who come to God through him.
To suit us, the ideal high priest would have to be holy, innocent and uncontaminated, beyond the influence of sinners, and raised up above the heavens; one who would not need to offer sacrifices every day, as the other high priests do for their own sins and then for those of the people, because he has done this once and for all by offering himself. The Law appoints high priests who are men subject to weakness; but the promise on oath, which came after the Law, appointed the Son who is made perfect for ever.
One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.
“… to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength”
I went back to church recently after having been absent for some weeks. A leek and onion quiche made me do it. My church hosts a weekend-long parish fair every October and I’ve baked a quiche for it each year for as long as I’ve been here. A quiche is not the easiest thing to do. It’s an exercise in courage, commitment, patience and faith. A ‘quiche in progress’ is not a pretty thing. It’s unstable, it can leak and its unattractive demeanour can spook the novice baker into giving up the fight too soon. Not a bad analogy for a faith journey, when you think about it.
The quiche stand at the fair is run by a warm-hearted, soft-spoken woman called Anne. Anne has a way of getting you to say ‘yes’ to her, even when you mean to say no. When Anne called this year to ask me to bake something, I was in the middle of being angry at the bishops and priests who have scandalized our Church. Still, I said yes to Anne because, well, it seemed unfair that Anne be short-changed just because I can’t process my own anger and frustration. I’m convinced now that Anne was sent by God to break me out of my shell. As I delivered my quivering mass of custard and leeks to her, I felt moved to go for mass. At mass, I met an old friend who asked me to join her at a prayer group for people who, like me, were trying to process our angst and frustration. God knew what I needed – a support group to help me work through my angst in a loving manner. And that’s what I’ve found… all because of a leek and onion quiche.
The scripture verse from today’s gospel implores us to love God with all our heart, all our understanding and all our strength – even when we do that, it is still not enough because we’re flawed and can be swayed by our emotions to break faith with God; God never breaks faith with us. In my stubbornness and anger, I had refused to attend mass. But His love was so great, He found a way to reach me despite myself. And at my least deserving, He found a way for me to heal my anger. How great is the love that remains faithful even when we have lost faith.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the laity of the church who are trying to work through their feelings of betrayal, frustration, anger and despair. Hold on to God, as He has held on to you.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks over and over for God’s mercies; they never come to an end and are renewed every morning.