In His Greatness He Tells Us How to Live Our Daily Lives

10-31-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Most of us have experienced at least one painful or scary time in our lives. This can be the sudden and tragic death of a spouse, perhaps even the loss of a child. A scary moment can be the loss of a sole income for a family. At these times we never really know what to say. In fact there is very little we can do for the suffering person, but we do know that we have to be there, after all that is what friends do. Friends are people you can turn to in times of need.

Our first reading and also the Gospel together help us show our love to God. We know that overall the Book of Deuteronomy is a book of civil and religious laws, we understand its purpose is to show how to live as God's people. We, however, do not really understand that fearing God is not the same as being afraid. It is more about respecting the greatness of God. The great prayer the Shema is based on the Deuteronomy reading: "Hear, O Israel." The Jewish people in reciting this prayer are professing their love for God, their obedience to God and also the invitation to pass on the love of God to their children. God commanded that these sacred words are not to leave the chosen people even for a moment. The Jewish people are obliged to pass them on to the next generations throughout the unrolling of time.

We learn from the gospel stories that Jesus came to lead all people to God. We come to see Him as the chief mediator between the human race and God. We are able to conclude that His is the ultimate priesthood, the perfect priesthood, since he is both perfect like God and human like us. In a theological sense the ministry of Christ the High Priest continues for all time.

In the Gospel the primary main command of Christians is to love God. Some scribes looking to catch Jesus in a blasphemy of some sort asked Jesus "the big question". We should also realize that some of the scribes were sincere in their questioning and wanted to know what Jesus thought was the most important. The answer of Jesus was right on the mark. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." He also continued and defined the second most important commandment to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. To Jesus our neighbors are all other people. Jesus also assured the man who asked that if he believed and practiced what Jesus had just said, he was very close to the reign of God.

The Scriptures often refer to "fear" of God. For many people this creates the image of a terrifying and avenging God. This may end up confusing our mutual relationship with God. Fear, as it is used in the Deuteronomy reading, is the perception of God's awesomeness. We have respect for God's magnificence and power. Oftentimes, if we do not understand, we become afraid and have fear. It would be better to say that because God amazes us, we have great respect for Him. We recognize that he is great and we are small and thus we have respect for Him.

Out of our respect for God we should listen to His words of what are the Great Commandments and try to follow them. There is no reason to fear God and his commands for in His greatness He tells us how to live our daily lives.