31st Sunday in the Ordinary Time Year B Sermon and Homily Notes
Moses spoke to the people, saying: ”Fear the LORD, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you, and thus have long life. Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them, that you may grow and prosper the more, in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers, to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.”
Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
R. (2) I love you, Lord, my strength.
I love you, O LORD, my strength,
O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
The LORD lives! And blessed be my rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
Brothers and sisters: The levitical priests were many because they were prevented by death from remaining in office, but Jesus, because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away. Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.
It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints men subject to weakness to be high priests, but the word of the oath, which was taken after the law, appoints a son, who has been made perfect forever.
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, ”Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall 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 shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ’He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, ”You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Inspirational Story – But it is Real
The Story of “Wild Bill’s” Decision to Love
There is a story told of a man who was liberated from a concentration camp in World Was II. He was called “Wild Bill Cody.” He called him that because the man had an unpronounceable seven-syllable Polish name and a handlebar mustache like the ones worn by western heroes in the old days.
While the rest of the Jewish prisoners were emaciated and haggard, “Wild Bill” was in excellent condition. Because of his amazing good health, the Americans assumed that he had been imprisoned a very short time. When his papers came through, however, they showed that “Wild Bill” had lived on a starvation diet and slept in airless disease-ridden barracks for six years just like the rest of the prisoners at Wuppetal. But “Wild Bill” had done it without physical or mental deterioration.
“Wild Bill” reported that he had lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw. He was an attorney with a wife, two daughters, and three little boys. When the Germans came into Warsaw they stood “Wild Bill’s” family against a wall and opened up with machine guns. “Wild Bill” said he begged to be allowed to die with his wife and children, but because he spoke German the Nazis wanted him as an interpreter.
“Wild Bill” made a decision. He said, “It would have been easy to blame the soldiers who had killed my family, but in my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people I loved most in the world. I decided then and there that I would spend the rest of my life – whether it was a few days or many years – loving every person I came in contact with.”
The decision to love every person – that was the power that kept “Wild Bill” alive and well in the face of every privation the Nazis could engineer. He became self-reliant. He was able to make that decision because he realized that he was able to choose his own feelings. No law dictated that he had to hate the Nazis. He knew he was free to make another choice. By choosing to love instead of hate, one man salvaged both his mind and his body from the Holocaust.
“Wild Bill” was aware of the grace within. He stayed awake to the Spirit which lives within. When we are not awake to our inner divinity, we do what is pragmatic and best for ourselves.
Sermon and Homily
We see the tension between Jesus and the Pharisees, the tension between the Old Testament and the New Testament and the tension between the Laws and the heavenly values.
God gave them commandments to make people understand love
The people of Israel were given laws and commandments not just to practice them, rather to learn to love God and men. The inner purpose of commandments and laws are to experience love.
What is the first and great commandment?
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. (Mathew 22:37,38)
What is the second commandment?
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.(Mathew 22:39)
How to love?
- Love with all your heart
You cannot love God and love a person with your empty words. Love always comes from your heart. When your love comes from your heart, actions follows accordingly. If you don’t love a person from your heart, you will pretend that you love God and a person, but your action will not give weight on that. So you feel and experience a person when you love. Your love from your heart will include your right actions, right thoughts, right emotions and affections.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.(psalm 91:14)
I love you, Lord, my strength.(Psalm 18:1)
- Love with all your mind
Our mind is with full of thoughts. Thoughts can be negative or positive. Whatever thoughts we have in our mind will manifest in action. If we have negative thoughts our action would be negative and sinful. If our thoughts are positive our actions would be positive and creative. Mind is a place for thoughts and thoughts become our actions.
If we love our God with all our mind, our thoughts would be always positive. Love of God and love of men always demands our mind to keep positive thoughts. If we create negative thoughts in our mind we cannot love God and men.
Whoever looks at a woman to lust…has already committed adultery in his heart (Mt. 5:28)
- Love with your all strength
One cannot love God with half heart, half mind and half in everything. For, love cannot be divided, love cannot be manipulated, and love cannot be a part of the whole. A person, therefore, should take whole effort only to love God and men.
- Love with all your soul
Soul is the place where God wants to communicate with us. When our hearts, minds, and strength become positive then the whole self or the person becomes positive in loving God and man. The whole soul becomes as the whole reality of love. This is the highest moment of experiencing love of God and love of man.
Old Testament laws and commandments
How many laws are there in the Old Testament? There are 613 laws and commandments in the Old Testament.
Out of this 613 laws, 365 are positive laws. That means those are the laws which you should do for good. For example :
“Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. “
The rest of 248 laws are there which you should not do. Those are negative laws and you are not supposed to do that. For example :
“Thou shalt not kill”
What are the inner meanings of those laws and commandments?
When the Holy Bible gives us 365 positive laws and commandments, the bible means that there are 365 days in a year and each day you have to do good. If you are the people of God and if you love your God, you are bound to do good only. The ultimate purpose of your existence in this world is to do good to others and through which you honor your Heavenly Father. The Heavenly Father also will bless you with the life of eternal. The 365 laws and commandments are representing the whole days of a year that is 365 days of a year, and each day you are expected and bound to act always positively.
Keeping these ideas in our mind, let us go back to the question of St. Peter.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
This is the question of St. Peter and look at the answer of Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
By saying that what was the idea of Jesus? Jesus wants to emphasize that you are born to do good always. You are bound to act positively, and you are not supposed to behave negatively. So the Holy Bible invites us to do good everyday without any conditions even though if others act against us.
That is the real purpose of 365 positive laws and commandments in the Holy Bible.
There are 248 negative laws and commandments in the Bible and we are not supposed to do those laws.
What is the exact purpose of those 248 laws and commandments in the Holy Bible?
There are 206 bones and 42 major organs in our body. Altogether 248 parts are there to make your body and mind live.
The Bible says if you commit a sin out of 248 of negative laws and commandments which you are not supposed to do, you are not a full human person. One of your bones or your major organs is damaged and you are not perfect. Even if you commit more sins out of those 248 negative laws and commandments that means you are less perfect and you are almost dying.
The Holy Bible says, therefore, that if you commit sins you will die.
Having got some ideas of the laws in the Old Testament, let us understand the teaching of Jesus on the aspect of laws and commandments.
The real purpose of the laws in the Old Testament to take people closer to God by their virtues and pious activities. But what has happened? Laws remains, but no virtues and pious activities in the heart of the people. At the time of Jesus, He experienced by seeing the hearts of the people that the very laws and commandments which are supposed to take the people closer to God, taking the people away from God, which is more contradiction in the lives of the people.
Jesus wants both laws and virtues effective in the heart of the people. People are like machines than human.
Jesus is searching for the virtues in the hearts of the people and not simply laws. People are happy by following the laws but their hearts are full of evil. Look at the sentence
21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
If we have those evilness in our hearts we will never please our Heavenly Father.